1921 - 2019
You had us at "HELLO, DOLLY!"
It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the
passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon - Miss Carol
Channing. I admired her before I met
her, and have loved her since the day she stepped ... or fell rather ... into
my life. It is so very hard to see the
final curtain lower on a woman who has been a daily part of my life for more
than a third of it. We supported each
other, cried with each other, argued with each other, but always ended up
laughing with each other. Saying good-bye
is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I know that when I feel
those uncontrollable urges to laugh at everything and/or nothing at all, it
will be because she is with me, tickling my funny bone. - B Harlan Boll (Miss
***Links to a selection of Miss Channing's performances
Born: Carol Elaine Channing on January 31, 1921 in
Died: At 12:31am on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019, at home
in Rancho Mirage, CA of natural causes
Carol was born Jan 31, 1921 in Seattle, Washington, the
daughter of a prominent newspaper editor, who was very active in the Christian
Science movement. At just two weeks of age, her father's work took the family
to San Francisco, where Carol was raised, schooled and eventually found work as
a model. Through determination, hard
work, and her family's support (not to mention a mandatory IQ test for which she
scored one of the highest recorded results), Carol was able to attend
Bennington College in Vermont that had one of the few existing arts programs in
the country, majoring in drama and dance.
A recipient of the 1995 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award,
Ms. Channing has been a star of international acclaim since a Time magazine
cover story hailed her performance as Lorelei Lee in "Gentleman Prefer
Blondes" writing; "Perhaps once in a decade a nova explodes above the
Great White Way with enough brilliance to re-illumine the whole gaudy legend of
show business." Since her 1948 Broadway debut in Blitzstein's "No For
An Answer," her Broadway appearances have included "So Proudly We
Hail," "Let's Face It," "Lend An Ear," "Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes," "Show Girl," "Pygmalion," "The
Millionairess," "The Vamp," "Four On A Garden," and
"Wonderful Town." In addition
to receiving a special Tony Award in 1968, she won the Tony Award in 1964 for
her legendary portrayal of Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman's "Hello,
Jacqueline Kennedy and her two children made their first
public appearance after JFK's death by seeing her perform in "Hello,
Dolly!" and later visited her backstage.
She has since played the role in over 5000 performances, without missing
a single performance. She then toured
with her own revue, "Carol Channing and Her Ten Stout Hearted Men"
and critically acclaimed tours of "Jerry's Girls" and
"Legends," in which she co-starred with Mary Martin.
Ms. Channing's happiest film project was in the role of
Muzzy in "Thoroughly Modern Millie," which earned her an Oscar
nomination and a Golden Globe Award.
Other films include "Paid In Full," "The First Traveling
Saleslady" (giving new comer Clint Eastwood his first on screen kiss),
"Skidoo," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,"
"Archie and Mehitabel" and "Thumbelina."
Ms. Channing TV specials, include "Broadway at the
Hollywood Bowl," "Carol Channing's Los Angeles," "Carol
Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway," "George Burns - His Wit and
Wisdom" and to millions of children worldwide is best known as the White
Queen in "Alice Through the Looking Glass." Other television credits
include popular game shows as "What's My Line," "I've Got a
Secret," "Password," and "Hollywood Squares," variety
shows such as "The Dean Martin Show," "The Red Skelton
Show," "The Milton Berle Show," "Rowan & Martin's
Laugh-In," "The Carol Burnett Show," "The Muppet
Show," as well as many Tony and Grammy broadcasts. A partial list of Carol's Episodic work
consist of Playhouse 90's "Three Men on a Horse," "The Love
Boat," "Magnum, P.I.," "The Nanny," "Touched by
an Angel," "The Drew Carey Show" and "Family Guy."
As one of the most easily recognized and highly imitated
voices in the world, Carol's unique sound has been established as characters
and narrative in both TV series and documentaries like "JFK: The Day the
Nation Cried," "The Adam's Family" (voice of Granny),
"Thumbelina," "Free To Be You and Me," "Space
Ghost," "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" and "The Brave Little
Toaster Goes To Mars." Miss
Channing also cut twenty children's albums of classic stories including
"Winnie The Pooh" and "Madeline."
Ms. Channing has recorded ten gold Albums and including
the original cast album of "Hello, Dolly!" released in 1964. Miss Channing has appeared in most every
grand ballroom and concert hall in the country.
Among her other acknowledgments is a Best Nightclub Act of the Year
Award, Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award, the Oscar
Hammerstein Award for lifetime achievement and the Julie Harris Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Actors' Fund of America, but is most proud in the
role of mother of Chan Lowe, who is a nationally syndicated editorial
cartoonist, who has the distinction of being a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
In 1998, Carol moved to Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage to be
close to her dear cousin Richard “Dicky” Long and loved the community so much,
that she called it home for the remainder of her life.
In 2003, the octogenarian released her best selling
memoirs, "Just Lucky I Guess" and started touring world wide with her
one woman show entitled "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest,"
after the very successful preview given to New York audiences that prompted the
New York Times to say "Back Where She Belongs: Carol Channing Reminisces .
. . The audience jumped to its feet more than once. We were watching a master
performer" and Associated Press declared "The audience clearly was
there to worship, and Channing did not disappoint." In 2004, Broadway's "first lady of
musical comedy," received an honorary doctoral degree becoming Doctor
Carol Channing from the California State University, Stanislaus Commencement
(only the third Honorary Doctoral Degree given in CSU Stanislaus 45-year
In 2009, items representing Miss Channing's career were
inducted into the Smithsonian Institute in D.C., along with eight other
legendary ladies of stage and screen. Her original diamonds dress from
the Broadway production of “Lorelei,” worn while singing “Diamonds Are A Girls
Best Friend” and her “Hello Dolly!” gown (from the 95' tour), as well as her
TONY Award for her portrayal of Dolly Gallagher Levy, are currently part of the
permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institutions American History Museum.
In addition, her 1995 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award can be seen on exhibit at
The Hollywood Museum and her star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame is located in
front of the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd.
In 2010, Carol returned to the Great White Way,
performing at the New Amsterdam theatre on 42nd Street, with many returning
“Dolly boys” from previous “Hello Dolly!” tours and received the “Gypsy Award”
from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.” In January 2012, mutli-TONY winning
director and producer, Dori Berinstein, released the critically acclaimed and
award winning documentary entitled “Carol Channing: Larger Than Life,”
highlighting Carol's 70 plus year career.
Her last public appearance was on her 95th birthday at the McCallum
Theater to a record breaking crowd of fans from all around the world, that
sold out in only a couple hours and featured an all star extravaganza to honor
her. In late 2018, artist Khoi Nguyen,
used his PHD in mathematics to create a prolific painting of the actress,
comedienne and activist, that allowed more than 43,000 friends and fans (as
well as herself) to participate by affixing their fingerprint onto the work,
each linked to a personal video interview about Miss Channing and her efforts
to raise awareness with regard to the need for arts in education.
Carol is survived by her son, Channing Lowe and close
family member, Sylvia Long.
Carol Channing Archive Clips:
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