Yesterday, a lovely and award-winning icon in the Broadway and film industry passed away at 97. Carol Channing won hearts with her comedic presence and eccentric personality. She became a Broadway star singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949 and continued on to win three Tony Awards.
Ms. Channing found some memorable screen time in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie (which she won an Oscar for) and show The Addams Family. Her incredibly unique voice is recognizable from a mile away. Occasionally I’ll watch a television show or movie and know it’s her beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I’ve heard about her from an enthusiastic fan and friend of mine, Trevin Cooper. Once he heard the news of her passing, he said:
“When Carol Channing descended the staircase into Harmonia Gardens on December 10, 1994 to a thunderous standing ovation, the moment soared through my teenage soul like lightning. Frozen to the seat, unable to clap or even breathe, I was discovering the magic of theatre for the first time. It was the defining event of my life. Whenever I lose track of myself, or my profession, I look to this [Hello, Dolly! musical] poster hanging beside my bed, close my eyes and recall that moment as clearly as if it had happened today. Rest In Peace Ms. Channing. No single performer meant more to me. Thank you for your talent. Thank you for opening the door to my life’s work.”
Funny enough, I didn’t know of her based on her more popular projects like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or Hello, Dolly!. She was a voice in one of my favorite movies growing up called Thumbelina. She played the mouse who convinces Thumbelina to “marry the mole” and live underground now that her Prince Charming had supposedly died (gasp!). This song makes my inner child so happy...
While performing in the first revival of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, she battled ovarian cancer and just this past year suffered two strokes. She definitely was a tough one. She was a passionate performer and has a warm place in the hearts of theatregoers.
“Performing is the only excuse for my existence.” - Carol Channing
Until next week!
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Cover Photo from Los Angeles Times