The Elegance of Julia

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Julia (NBC, 1968–71) was the first television show to depict a black middle-class family and the first since the 1950s sitcom Beulah to star a black woman. Diahann Carroll (b. 1935) played Julia Baker, a registered nurse and widowed mother of a young son. In part because Carroll had started her career as a model for Ebony magazine, she was able to collaborate with celebrity fashion designer William Travilla to create her character’s elegant wardrobe.

A book of paper dolls from the television show, Julia.

A book of paper dolls from the television show, Julia.
Copyright 1968-1969, The Saalfield Publishing Co., Akron, Ohio.

On the show, Julia sewed her own clothes, and fans could buy patterns of Julia’s outfits to make at home. Tie-in merchandise like this paper doll set helped to promote Carroll’s glamorous image.