Broadway legend Carol Channing dies at age 97

16 January, 2019, 21:44 | Author: Norman Carr
  • Carol Channing

She died Tuesday of natural causes just days before her 98th birthday. She credited her father with encouraging her: "He told me you can dedicate your life at 7 or 97".

Carol Channing was synonymous with Dolly Levi, the hilarious matchmaking widow in Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman's musical Hello, Dolly! that took Broadway by storm in 1964.

Carol is well known for her work in Broadway's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as well as the title character in Broadway's Hello, Dolly!

Among Channing's honors were a lifetime achievement Tony Award, an Oscar Hammerstein Award for lifetime achievement in musical theatre and membership in the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

I first encountered Broadway legend Carol Channing through a teenage homosexual, which seems apt, because she really killed with the gays.

A positive review of her role in a revue show in NY convinced her to ditch education in favour of full-time performing.

Actor George Burns and Channing perform a dance routine in September 1976 during a rehearsal for their roadshow.

She said they only had sex twice in four decades. She was a "Dolly" for the ages, and a true icon of the American Theater.


Channing stars in the revival production of Hello, Dolly! at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City in March 1978.

The multi-talented star was often called upon to appear as herself throughout the years, reviving her famed Hello, Dolly! musical numbers for programs like Sesame Street and The Nanny. And we're talking about a woman who racked up 5,000-plus live performances in Hello, Dolly! and some 3,500 in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Channing was also known for her philanthropic efforts, including her arts education foundation with late husband Harry Kullijian and her "mutual love affair" with the LGBTQ community.

Born in Seattle on 31 January 1921, Channing grew up an only child in San Francisco in a family of Christian Scientists. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Carol Channing", it read.

"Regret leads to negativity and negativity kills creativity", said Channing.

"Performing is the only excuse for my existence", she said in 1995. The show's hit song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", became her signature number. Her first marriage was to Theodore Naidish, they were married from 1941 to 1944.

She is survived by her son, cartoonist Channing Carson.

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