Published: Tue, January 15, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Carol Channing, Star of "Hello, Dolly!", Dead at 97

Carol Channing, Star of

Channing gives a performance of her one-woman show, The First 80 Years are the Hardest, at the cabaret Feinstein's at the Regency in NY in October 2005.

Tributes to the late Tony victor have poured in since the news of her death broke early Tuesday morning, with stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters honoring the late Broadway legend.

Publicist B. Harlan Boll says Channing died of natural causes at 12:31 a.m. Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, California.

Channing had suffered strokes over the past year, Boll said.

In 1964, Channing found a role equal to Lorelei Lee in Jerry Herman's "Hello Dolly", which became a Broadway classic.

Channing also became a darling on the small screen, appearing on TV quiz shows and other programs including "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In", "The Love Boat", "Touched by an Angel" and "Family Guy".

In the below scene, Channing enters like a insane person, sings a nonsensical song about jam, dances like she's on drugs, pricks her finger, starts screaming, and turns into a goat.

"Carol Channing was one of the great icons of the American theater, and a beloved ambassador for this art form".

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She won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for the role of Muzzy Van Hossmere in the 1967 movie musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie". As recently as 1996, at age 75, she returned to Broadway following a national and world tour of "Dolly".

She wowed them in an audition and was hired on the spot. Channing worked steadily for years, but her breakthrough came via 1964's Hello, Dolly! At opening night on January 16, 1964, when Channing appeared at the top of the stairs in a red gown with feathers in her hair and walked down the red carpet to the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, the NY audience went insane.

She saw both of her signature stage roles go to younger Hollywood actresses when film versions of the plays were made.

Perhaps because of her fame, but more likely because of the power of her charm and optimism, political power players sought out Channing. She would later win a special Tony in 1968 and a Tony for Lifetime Achievement in 1995. Instead, Streisand headlined the Gene Kelly-directed 1969 film - which turned out to be a massive flop.

Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, liked her less. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Carol Channing".

She married her third husband, producer-writer Charles Lowe, in 1956, and he guided her career for 40 years. She called the book "Just Lucky, I Guess".

Every Channing performance was something audacious by virtue of her personality.

In 2003, she remarried to Harry Kullijian, her childhood sweetheart. "They pulled me through!"

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