jakeem

Actress Carol Channing (1921-2019)

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The actress Carol Channing, Broadway's original Lorelei Lee and musical version of Dolly Levi. has died, a little more than two weeks shy of her 98th birthday. Her publicist, B. Harlan Boll, confirmed that Channing died of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California after suffering two strokes last year.

She was the recipient of five Tony Awards -- competitive and special.

 
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Her Broadway debut was in the 1949 musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," based on the 1925 novel by Anita Loos. Channing's performance as Lorelei Lee earned her the cover of Time magazine for January 9, 1950. Marilyn Monroe played Lorelei in the 1953 screen version.
 
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Cover Credit: BORIS CHALIAPIN
 
She made her screen debut in the 1956 Western comedy "The First Traveling Saleslady" with Ginger Rogers, James Arness and Clint Eastwood. Her first screen kiss was provided by Eastwood, but it wound up on the cutting room floor. 
 
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Channing again captivated Broadway audiences in "Hello, Dolly!" Jerry Herman's 1964 musical version of Thornton Wilder's play "The Matchmaker." The role of Dolly Gallagher Levi had been intended for Ethel Merman, who declined it at the time. The production was a smashing success and won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Channing). One of Channing's competitors in the category was Barbra Streisand, who would play Dolly in a 1969 film version.
 
 
The 1967 movie musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" featured Channing as the eccentric Muzzy Van Hossmere. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe Award in the same category.
 
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Channing co-starred with Jackie Gleason in Otto Preminger's 1968 counterculture comedy "Skidoo." She played the wife of an ex-mobster under pressure to break into Alcatraz prison and whack an old friend. The movie also starred Frankie Avalon, Mickey Rooney, Michael Constantine, Frank Gorshin, John Phillip Law, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Cesar Romero and Slim Pickens. The film marked the final screen appearances of Groucho Marx and Fred Clark -- and the first for actress Alexandra Hay. 
 
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On January 11, 1970, Channing became the first celebrity to provide halftime entertainment at a Super Bowl. She performed at Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, where the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League upset the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League 23-7. It was the last championship game before the merger of the AFL and the NFL later that year. Two years later, Channing performed at Super Bowl VI, also held in New Orleans.
 
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On a memorable 1979 edition of NBC's "Today," Channing cracked up Gene Shalit with her tale about a London dinner party she attended at the estate of the American-born Lady Astor. Shalit went into hysterics as Channing recounted her inability to understand the Mayfair accent of a dinner guest, Sir Benjamin Harrison. Former "Today" host Tom Brokaw called Channing's story "the single funniest moment" he had ever experienced during his years on television.
 
 
Channing played The White Queen in a 1985 CBS miniseries that featured Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" on back-to-back nights. Alice was played by child actress Natalie Gregory.
 
 
In her candid 2002 memoir "Just Lucky I Guess," Channing revealed that she was informed at the age of 16 that her father was part-African American. She later told CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers that she took "great pride" in the news, but eventually regretted mentioning it in the book. "Now I am sorry that I wrote it because there are too many people not ready for that," Channing said. "I didn't realize that. There are too many people who just feel there's a difference. There is no difference in people. None."
 
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Through the years, Channing headlined more than 5,000 performances of "Hello, Dolly!" -- and only missed one performance because of food poisoning. The role of Dolly Levi also had been performed by many other stars, including Merman, Pearl Bailey (who won a special Tony Award), Mary Martin and Betty Grable. In 2016, it was Bette Midler's turn. She starred as Dolly in a Broadway revival that won her the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.
 
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She takes her final bow. We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Carol Channing http://goo.gl/uPwDti 

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#RIP Carol Channing."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,” Time magazine wrote in 1950 when she was starring in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.'

The great, the legendary #CarolChanning has died at age 97. She was a complete original, and there will never be another. Blonde, 6 ft tall and utterly hilarious, she was a legend. My condolences to the world; to those who knew her or saw her and those who never got the chance.

Carol Channing did the Broadway revival of Hello Dolly in 1996 and her playbill bio inspired me forever; it listed all her awards, adding “...and an appearance on Nixon’s ‘hate list,’ which she numbers among her highest honors.”

Carol Channing brought more magic into this world than just about anyone. She’s completely irreplaceable. How fortunate are we that her artistry will continue to entertain us for generations to come. Carol, thank you for being so uniquely & gorgeously, You. #CarolChanning

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So sorry to hear this! One of the theater greats. I saw her in Hello, Dolly! -- she was amazing and should have made the movie. The Tony Awards the year she won had four great ladies in the Best Actress in a Musical category: Beatrice Lillie (High Spirits); Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl); Inga Swenson (110 in the Shade); and Ms. Channing, who deservedly won. The original cast album of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes preserves her great performance as Lorelei Lee. The movie (which she should have starred in) can't touch it.

I first saw her on television, performing her Cecilia Sisson routine. She was a magnificent actress and a great lady. RIP.

 

 

 

 

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Legend. Long life.

Hopefully TCM will give her a primetime spotlight in April or May, instead of waiting till the end of 2019 to show one of her films "in memoriam."

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RIP CAROL CHANNING.

 One-of-a-kind star who became a household name even though most of her work was on the stage.

Channing had her first major film role in 1956, co-starring with Ginger Rogers in The First Traveling Saleslady. She got to sing "A Corset Can Do a Lot for a Lady." Rogers once quipped that this was the film that finally killed RKO.

In 1965 Channing and Rogers appeared together as "mystery guests" on What's My Line to publicize that Rogers was replacing Channing in the mega-hit Hello, Dolly!

Channing earned an Oscar nomination for Thoroughly Modern Millie, which Channing made as a sort of "audition" for the proposed film version of Hello, Dolly! The role went to Barbra Streisand.

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Sad news. I heard her name on the news this morning and knew it had to be about her dying. I'm sure Broadway will be dark tonight.......

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As far as a night of her films, WHAT films? She only appeared in a handful and her most famous is from Universal (Millie).

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12 minutes ago, Hibi said:

As far as a night of her films, WHAT films? She only appeared in a handful and her most famous is from Universal (Millie).

They have THE FIRST TRAVELING SALESLADY in the Turner library. And I can see them renting THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE from Universal, and SKIDOO from Paramount, as they've aired those before. So yeah, a night of Carol Channing films on TCM is quite possible.

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I dont think so. She's not considered a film star.

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Her Dolly Levi was a unique stage creation.

She did do a lot of theater, but had only two famous roles onstage.

Television played an instrumental role in keeping her name alive.

And, of course, her unending impersonation of Lorelei Lee.

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22 minutes ago, rayban said:

Her Dolly Levi was a unique stage creation.

She did do a lot of theater, but had only two famous roles onstage.

Television played an instrumental role in keeping her name alive.

And, of course, her unending impersonation of Lorelei Lee.

She was someone I would look forward to seeing as a guest star on Love Boat. Her larger than life camp persona worked perfectly on that silly show. Charo was another one.

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6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

She was someone I would look forward to seeing as a guest star on Love Boat. Her larger than life camp persona worked perfectly on that silly show. Charo was another one.

You probably remember the 1982 episode of "The Love Boat" in which Channing, Ethel Merman, Ann Miller and Della Reese performed "I'm the Greatest Star" from "Funny Girl."

 

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3 minutes ago, jakeem said:

You probably remember the 1982 episode of "The Love Boat" in which Channing, Ethel Merman, Ann Miller and Della Reese performed "I'm the Greatest Star" from "Funny Girl."

 

Yes, indeed, thanks for posting the clip. So much talent packed into one episode!

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4 hours ago, Swithin said:

So sorry to hear this! One of the theater greats. I saw her in Hello, Dolly! -- she was amazing and should have made the movie. The Tony Awards the year she won had four great ladies in the Best Actress in a Musical category: Beatrice Lillie (High Spirits); Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl); Inga Swenson (110 in the Shade); and Ms. Channing, who deservedly won. The original cast album of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes preserves her great performance as Lorelei Lee. The movie (which she should have starred in) can't touch it.

I first saw her on television, performing her Cecilia Sisson routine. She was a magnificent actress and a great lady. RIP.

I saw her once on a talk show where she said she had dyed her hair so much that when she washed it that morning she saw it all fall off in the sink. And then she pulled off her blonde wig and showed a head which looked like a peeled onion with one little tiny blonde pony tail about two inches long. What a fun lady!

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Hibi said:

I dont think so. She's not considered a film star.

She's someone TCM can still market to its viewers, since she did make some noteworthy films.

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She might rate a film at the end of the year for those that have passed.....

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6 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

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 I was a little kid the first time I saw Carol. She was doing an act with George Burns after Gracie Allen had retired.

For years I wasn't sure if she was really a woman or a female impersonator.

Carol was the biggest star on Broadway in the 1960s.

Such a sweet lady!

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Thanks for the detailed write-up and all those pics! Wow, halftime performer at the Super Bowl! Times have certainly changed. 

I'm of an age where I really only knew her from whatever she did on '70s television - shows like The Love Boat, and I'm guessing she was one of the roster that would show up on those '70s game shows where celebrities assisted the contestants like Match Game and Hollywood Squares? I knew who she was from probably the age of seven or eight, but I didn't really know anything about why she was a celebrity until much later, after buying the CD of the original cast recording of Hello, Dolly! and watching Thoroughly Modern Millie as an adult.

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49 minutes ago, Hibi said:

She might rate a film at the end of the year for those that have passed.....

TCM did not do an In Memoriam retrospective for a group of stars at the end of 2018...instead, they gave the whole night over to Burt Reynolds. I can see them doing something for Carol Channing in the months ahead, instead of waiting till December when someone "bigger" might die and get the whole night again. We'll see what happens.

To say she's not a film star, or to say she's not important enough for TCM programmers to do a tribute, is a bit unfair. My opinion.

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We'll have to agree to disagree then. Yeah, I noticed there wasnt one in Dec. A great stage star, yes. But I doubt TCM considers her a big enough movie actress to do anything. They didnt do anything when bigger stars like Teresa Wright or Kathryn Grayson died.

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32 minutes ago, Hibi said:

We'll have to agree to disagree then. Yeah, I noticed there wasnt one in Dec. A great stage star, yes. But I doubt TCM considers her a big enough movie actress to do anything. They didnt do anything when bigger stars like Teresa Wright or Kathryn Grayson died.

Grayson's had two Star of the Month retrospectives. There was an evening of Teresa Wright films, though not when she died.

They like to come up with new themes for primetime. An evening of Carol Channing movies would be right up their alley, and her passing gives them a reason to do one about her.

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