“I’m terribly shy, but of course no one believes me. Come to think of it, neither would I.” We certainly don’t believe these words, considering who spoke them.
“It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon — Miss Carol Channing,” B. Harlan Boll, Channing’s publicist, said in a statement according to US Weekly.
“I admired her before I met her, and have loved her since the day she stepped … or fell rather … into my life,” he went on. “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.”
It appears Channing felt the same about the publicist who spoke such kind words of her. “I seek his wise council on just about everything and can’t imagine what I would do without his guidance,” she said.
Boll reportedly informed US Weekly that the just-shy-of-98-year-old passed away in her home from natural causes.
But the 97 years that came before her certainly play testament to a life well-lived. A life Channing spent entertaining and making people laugh.
Born on Jan. 31, 1921, in Seattle, Channing caught her first glimpse of the theater life while helping her newspaper editor father pass out papers backstage.
“It came over me that I was looking at the stage and backstage of a cathedral, a temple, a mosque, a mother church,” Channing recalled in “Just Lucky, I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts.”
JUST IN: Carol Channing died Tuesday morning, her publicist said. She was 97 years old.
Channing’s trademark platinum blond hair framed her always smiling face, her wide-eyed innocent style belied a very savvy mind, and her voice was unmistakable.https://t.co/9TKukNHl9r
— NPR (@NPR) January 15, 2019
And so the stage eventually became that very thing to Channing. Her debut role found her in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1949.
Yet it was “Hello, Dolly!” that gave Channing a name. But unlike many others in her career field, Channing kept the name given to her at birth.
Her role as Dolly Levi was of such importance to her, Channing never missed a show, aside from half of one.
In a 2011 interview with Tom Gregory, Channing reminisced about her determination that the show would go on even if it meant she was being wheeled off on a stretcher part way through.
In the interview, Channing explained how she’d been referred to as “the most promising young” actress so often, she wondered if she “would ever come to fruition.”
We think it’s safe to say that indeed she has. From “Hello, Dolly!” to “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” then on to the White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” and voiceovers in the animated film “Thumbelina,” Channing has multiple awards to her well-recognized name.
Channing won several Tony Awards throughout her lifetime, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Tony in 1995.
Channing also took home an Oscar in 1968 for her Best Supporting Actress role as Muzzy Van Hossmere in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
— Playbill (@playbill) January 15, 2019
She lived her life to the soundtrack of applause but insisted this was simply her duty, and not the reward. “Laughter is much more important than applause,” she once said.
“Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward.” And it has been our reward to watch her shine. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this time.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.