Tv and movie legend Diahann Carroll has revealed one of her darkest secrets in a new Tv interview - she was abandoned by her mother as a three year old.

The actress, who turns 78 next month (Jul13), has led a rich, successful life, but she has never been able to shake the memory of the day she woke up at her aunt's house in North Carolina and realised her mum was gone.

In a candid new Tv chat with Oprah Winfrey, the Dynasty star reveals, "My mum and dad were poor and my mother took me to North Carolina and when I awakened the following day my mother had left me... She and my dad had decided that they needed a year without the responsibility of having a small baby. I was about three.

"What happened is that we laughed and talked and had dinner and so forth and then I went to bed. There were no words to say, 'Mummy is not going to be here when you wake up. I'm going to leave you with your aunt,' hoping whatever the three year old... could understand. So I awakened and I spent the next day looking for my mother.

"It's a good story, you have to admit. I mean it's a brokenhearted little baby, how can it not be a good story?"

But Carroll, who has been married four times and was engaged to both Sidney Poitier and revered broadcaster David Frost, insists she never let the memory take over her life as she started out as an actress: "It happened. It's over. It's done. A mature person finds a way to let go of that. An immature person... that's a wonderful excuse. I can live on that excuse forever - 'Look what my mum and dad did'!

"Well they did a lot of wonderful things (too). They lived, gave me everything they possibly could, and they passed on. And I'm a healthy, fairly intelligent human being, who has had a very fabulous, incredible life.

"It's my fault that I'm still walking around with this story in my head. One of my dearest friends in the world said to me, 'When will you give up that story?' It's been with me for a long time. It's hard to give it up."