Hello Dolly's Carol Channing dies aged 97

Wednesday, 16 Jan, 2019

Carol Channing, a Broadway legend who racked up more than 5,000 lifetime performances, including 4,500 as the Jewish title character - Dolly Levi - of the musical "Hello, Dolly!" died Tuesday at her California home.

Harlan Boll wrote in a statement, "It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon - Miss Carol Channing". She credited her father with encouraging her: "He told me you can dedicate your life at 7 or 97".

American actress and singer Carol Channing starred in the musical Hello, Dolly! in New York City in 1964.

"One of Broadway's greatest lights, Carol Channing, has passed on", wrote "Star Trek" actor George Takei on Twitter.

You wonder what 1940s Broadway made of Channing, who wasn't going to turn out a steam-powered belter in the manner of Ethel Merman, real-homespun like Mary Martin or cool-funny like Eve Arden, whom she understudied. Her death came after suffering two strokes a year ago, the New York Times reported. In 1949, she broke out as the "little girl from Little Rock" Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the "Hamilton" creator, also commemorated Channing with "Dolly!" lyrics from the tune "Before the Parade Passes By".

It made her name worldwide and she became something of a national treasure thanks to her personal warmth and enthusiasm and her iconic, wide smile.

The show was a hit in LA and transferred to NY, where she later starred in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The following year her life and career was celebrated in the documentary "Carol Channing: Larger Than Life".

"My favorites roles have always been the one I'm doing at that moment", Channing admitted in an interview with Broadway World in 2014. "And the people who do that are happier people", she said, according to CBS News.

As she famously once said, "Laughter is much more important than applause".

She went on to have a son named Channing Carson with her second husband Alexander Carson.

Every Channing performance was something audacious by virtue of her personality.

Channing remarried in 2003 to Harry Kullijian, her childhood sweetheart from 70 years before.