Goodbye Dolly: Broadway legend Carol Channing has died aged of 97
- Carol Channing died shortly after midnight Tuesday at her California home
- Publicist said she passed away of natural causes after suffering several strokes
- Channing performed more than 1,000 times during her seven-decade career
- She was best known for her roles in Hello Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Carol Channing, who helped define the golden age of Broadway with performances in Hello Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, has died at the age of 97.
Channing passed away shortly after midnight on Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, publicist B Harlan Boll said.
She died from natural causes having suffered a series of stokes over the past year, Boll said. She would have turned 98 at the end of the month.
Carol Channing, star of musicals such as Hello Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, has died at the age of 97 (pictured left in 1950, and right in 2015)
Channing (pictured in 2007) died of natural causes having suffered several strokes over the last year, her publicist B Harlan Boll said
Boll said: ‘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.
Channing appears as matchmaker Dolly Levi in a scene from Hello Dolly!, which opened in 1964 and continues to be performed to this day, though Channing bowed out in 1996
Over the course of a seven-decade career Channing took to the stage more than 1,000 times, only missing one performance due to food poisoning (pictured left in 1967, right in 1969)
‘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.’
In a career that spanned seven decades, the saucer-eyed, raspy-voiced musical-comedy star never shook her associations with matchmaker Dolly Levi from the 1964 Broadway musical ‘Hello Dolly!’ or gold digger Lorelei Lee in Anita Loos’s ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.’
Still, unlike many stars who are linked strongly to the characters they have played, Channing was pleased to be identified with Lorelei, as well as Dolly, a role that won her a Tony Award.
‘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.’
‘I’m lucky to be so closely associated with both ‘Diamonds’ and ‘Dolly.’ … I’m luckier than most – I have two identity songs.’