Broadway legend Carol Channing died in January 2019, at the age of 97. Perhaps best known for her starring role in Broadway’s Hello, Dolly in 1964, Channing was more than just an actress: she was a singer, a dancer, a comedian and she never stopped Growing Bolder — even in her final days.
In fact, Growing Bolder spoke with Channing in 2009, and she talked with us about her career, her personal life and her commitment to Move Forward. Give Back.®:
Channing also played Lorelei in 1950’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and while she didn’t get the film role for it or for Hello, Dolly, she was associated with those characters her entire career and performed the plays thousands of times.
Some of Broadway’s current stars paid tribute to a woman they say changed their industry:
“When the whistles blow
And the cymbals crash
And the sparklers light the sky
I'm gonna raise the roof
I'm gonna carry on
Give me an old trombone
Give me an old baton
Before the parade passes by!”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 15, 2019
Dazzling. Priceless. Durable. Flawless. A diamond.
Carol Channing, 1921-2019.
Rest in peace.
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) January 15, 2019
RIP dear wondrous legendary lady. You were one of a kind.❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Me7yB96ciO
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) January 15, 2019
Channing’s interest in theater and performing started in childhood — she grew up in California, raised by parents who were devout members of the Christian Science religion (source). She and her mother would hand out literature backstage, and she fell in love with the experience.
In 1964, she debuted in the role of Dolly in Hello, Dolly, which opened in January of 1964 and closed in late December 1970. With nearly 3,000 performances, it was the longest-running musical in Broadway history (although six other stars played the title role in those seven years).
Channing also performed on the small screen, in skits or as a guest on shows including The Andy Williams Show and Sesame Street.