Honestly though, I don't remember what it was that she said. Actually, I don't recall her talking at all; but that is definitely the doll. Maybe there was a non-talking version that came in the jump-suit.
So, I did a little research. The only version in the lame jump-suit (that's "lah-may"! I don't know how to put accents on this blog; and we all know there was nothing "lame" about Miss Carroll!) was the talking version. I found some recordings of what the doll said, in Miss Carroll's voice. Things along the lines of "Nursing is great fun!" and "What should I wear on my show?" and "Hi, my name is Julia!" and "Do you want to be an actress?" That last one rang a very distant bell and I remembered the voice. I always thought my sister should be an actress. She was quite dramatic (in a good way). I still think she should. Also, my answer to Julia's acting query was "yes." I mean, in wanting to act. I've played a woman on stage; and it's a bitch!
When I think back on this, a few things kind of amaze me. My parents both grew up in Charlestown, Massachusetts. It's really a neighborhood of Boston proper. It's where the Bunker Hill monument is:
I often wonder about the procuring of the doll by my father. Like, did he go into the PX at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina (not exactly a bastion of racial equality in 1968) and go to the toy department and find the Julia doll? Was he confronted with both versions of the doll (the second in her nursing outfit) and had to choose? And if he did, why did he choose the one that he did? Because she could talk? Because he liked her jumpsuit? Or did he grab the first one he saw that said "Julia"? Or, did he ask the sales-clerk to help him find the doll? And if that was the case, what did he or she think? Here was this good looking, macho white man in fatigues asking for a Black 11 inch fashion doll.
You know, when I think back on my Dad who grew up in an atmosphere of total bigotry and was in the Marine Corps with a lot of rough guys; I can't recall him ever having an unkind word for any other race or creed or anyone in any minority. My mom had her moments. Her section of Charlestown was a little tougher than my dad's. Back in the days of R & B and disco, when one of those songs would come on in the car on the radio; she sometimes said some unkind comments about the musical stylings. From the backseat, we kids would berate her. "Mom," we'd cry, "that's racist!!!" Remember this was the 70's; like where did me and my siblings get our tolerant views? "Mom, that's so racist!" Don't misunderstand me. My mom is one of the sweetest, most loving people you'd ever meet. Her comments about the music were merely conditioning. One day, after our cries of racism, my mother turned off the radio and regarded us in the rear-view mirror. "Maybe I am a racist..." she said quietly. She never made those comments again.
As important and ground-breaking a show as Julia was, it wasn't really a "kids" show; despite the toys and the lunch boxes and the paper-dolls. I recall it being rather somber, and for a child, frankly kind of boring. It's never really gone into re-runs with any kind of regularity. It never became beloved. That doesn't mean it wasn't good or important. Perhaps it was trying too hard to be important. Its caution sapped the fun factor. Or maybe not. I'm relying on my six-year-old memory. I haven't seen the show since its original run.
Diahann didn't pop up again in my life (besides the occasional "Special") until she turned up on Dynasty in 1984. At the time, she was doing a lot of pre-publicity on shows like Entertainment Tonight; where she proclaimed, directly into the camera: "I'm going to be the first black bitch on television!" At the time, TV was obsessed with "bitches." Female characters who were white, wealthy, entitled, scheming and ruthless. "The women you love to hate!" the media proclaimed.
Now, if Diahann had meant that she was going to be something more along the lines of a bad-ass-black-bitch; she'd already been beaten to the punch by Teresa Graves as Christie Love on Get Christie Love!
When she did turn up on Dynasty as Dominique Deveraux, she was more, I'd say, calculating than "bitchy." And she played it straight; as opposed to Joan Collins who camped it up as far as she could. "Playing it straight," was for me, kind of boring. I was losing interest in the show by the time she came on. Here's her Big Entrance:
Here's to Miss Diahann Carroll. Cool as a cucumber.
And I so wish I had that doll.
Here she is talking about how she got involved with Dynasty: