Carol Channing, legendary Broadway actress, dies at 97, publicist says

Actress Carol Channing in lavish red outfit in scene from musical Hello, Dolly! (Photo by Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Carol Channing, the legendary Broadway actress who portrayed Dolly Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” has died, her publicist said in a statement Tuesday. Channing was 97.

Channing died early Tuesday morning at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.


“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,” her publicist B Harlan Boll told Broadway World in a statement. “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. 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.”

Carol Channing, legendary Broadway actress, dies at 97, publicist says Actress Carol Channing attends the 26th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on January 3, 2015 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Channing, a Seattle native born on Jan. 31, 1921, got her start in the 1949 Broadway play “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” alongside Yvonne Adair and Rex Evans. Years later, she would star in “Hello, Dolly!” and win the 1964 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Channing was also nominated for Best Actress in a Musical three other times, including in 1956 for “The Vamp,” 1961 for “Show Girl” and 1974 for “Lorelei.”

She would also appear on the silver screen in several movies, including “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The First Traveling Saleslady” and “Skidoo.” She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”


Later in her career, she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for her work on “Hello, Dolly!” and received a Tony Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the AIDS and Actors’ Fund.

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