Legendary Broadway star Carol Channing died of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. early Tuesday morning. She was 97.
B. Harlan Boll, Channing’s publicist, made the announcement in a Facebook post.
“It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original industry pioneer, legend and icon, Miss Carol Channing,” Boll wrote. “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. We supported each other, cried with each other, argued with each other, but always ended up laughing with each other. Saying goodbye 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.”
Channing was born in Seattle on Jan. 31, 1921. At age 19, she began performing on Broadway. She gained widespread acclaim for her role as Lorelei Lee in the 1949 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes;” the same role was famously played by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film version.
In 1964, Channing portrayed the title role in the iconic musical “Hello, Dolly!” which earned her the Tony Award for Best Actress. Channing played Dolly more than 5,000 times over the years giving her final performance in 1996.
Channing also was a film star appearing in the films “Paid In Full,” “The First Traveling Saleslady” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” She won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1967 film “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
She is survived by her son, Channing Lowe.
Social media lit up with tributes to one of Broadway’s most iconic stars.
“When the whistles blow— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 15, 2019
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!”
I am so sad just lost my incredible original inspiration #carolchanning I saw her in Hello Dolly when I was 8 and she changed my DNA love you lady forever one of the greatest entertainers of all times— Sandra Bernhard (@SandraBernhard) January 15, 2019
One of Broadway’s greatest lights, Carol Channing, has passed on. She rejoins the heavens as a new diamond in the night sky, and as she famously sang, they are a girl’s best friend. Goodbye and farewell, forever our Dolly. https://t.co/0u2zLcAnff— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 15, 2019
When Mary Martin died, Carol Channing said a wisp of smoke came out of the top of her head when she passed. I have a feeling last night, Ms. Channing tap danced her way into the wings. If you didn’t know her work look up Channing Diamonds – her voice will make you smile. pic.twitter.com/PLd46N6rU5— David Sobolov (@volobos) January 15, 2019