Carol Channing, Broadway Legend, Dies at 97

Carol Channing, Broadway Legend, Dies at 97

Carol Channing, the actress and singer known best for her Tony Award-winning performance in "Hello, Dolly!", died Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Carol Channing, the saucer-eyed, gravelly voiced Broadway barnstormer whose offbeat personality and marquee value fueled such Golden Age musicals as Gentleman Prefer Blondes and Hello, Dolly!

"Audiences expect and demand I sing these songs", she once told a reporter of her signature tunes, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and "Hello Dolly". She explained to King, "I was 16 years old and my mother told me".

As the Broadway community mourns the loss of Carol Channing, the theatre district will send her off with a tradition befitting of a stage legend. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Carol Channing", it read. The lanky, ebullient musical comedy star delighted American audiences over nearly 5,000 performances as the scheming Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly" on Broadway and beyond.

Channing never took a DNA test that we know of, but here is an alleged picture of her father and he looks far from being a man of color.

Channing played each role for years on Broadway and on tours around the world, taking the stage as Dolly more than 3,000 times.

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.

Like anyone with a lengthy show business career, Channing had her foibles.

Channing had her own number in Millie: Jazz Baby, a 1919 hit that opens "My daddy was a ragtime trombone player", which perfectly showcased her genius for the comedy slide - a gift of her vocal range - and even more her delivery.

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. Instead, Streisand headlined the Gene Kelly-directed 1969 film - which turned out to be a massive flop. His idea was that Channing could play the maid, Sabina (who is also a vamp), while doubling as the everywoman housewife Mrs Antrobus.

In 1956 she married TV producer Charles Lowe, who adopted her son and became her manager. He died in September 1999. He died in 2011.

In her book, Channing recounted an early story from her childhood that showed a budding audience-pleasing performer.

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