Carol Channing, Legendary Broadway Actress, Dies At 97 Of Natural Causes

Monti Spry / Central PressHulton Archive / Getty Images

Legendary Broadway actress Carol Channing died at 12:31 a.m. on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, of natural causes, according to a report published by Broadway World.

B. Harlan Boll, Channing’s publicist, released the following statement to Broadway World.

“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,” he explained.

“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,” the statement concluded.

Channing was born January 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.

She attended Bennington College in Vermont, which had one of the few existing arts programs in the country, majoring in drama and dance.

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, Dolly! reported Broadway World.

Legend has it that the late Jacqueline Kennedy and her two children, the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline, made their first public appearance after JFK’s tragic death by seeing her perform in Hello, Dolly! and later visited her backstage.

She played the role in over 5,000 performances.

Channing appeared in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie as Muzzy, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award. She also appeared in the films Paid In Full, The First Traveling Saleslady, Skidoo, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Archie and Mehitabel, and Thumbelina.

Channing had one of the most easily recognized and highly imitated voices in the world.

Ms. Channing recorded 10 gold albums, including the original cast album of Hello, Dolly! released in 1964.

In 1956, Channing married her manager and publicist Charles Lowe. They remained married for 42 years.

She released her best selling memoir Just Lucky I Guess and started touring worldwide with her one-woman show titled The First Eighty Years are the Hardest.

In 2004, Channing received an honorary doctoral degree becoming Doctor Carol Channing from California State University, Stanislaus.

In 2010, Channing received the Gypsy Award from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

She is survived by her son Channing Carson, who took his stepfather’s surname. He publishes his cartoons as Chan Lowe and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work.