The Broadway community spoke out with remembrances and words of gratitude about Carol Channing, the original star of “Hello, Dolly!” after news of her death Tuesday.
Channing died of natural causes on Tuesday at the age of 97, her publicist confirmed. On Broadway, she is remembered for originating the role of Dolly Levi in the original “Hello, Dolly!” company and went on to play the role in subsequent national tours for a total of more than 5,000 performances. She also originated the role of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
All Broadway theaters will dim their lights at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in commemoration of Channing.
“Carol Channing personified everything we love about American musical comedy: big, funny and joyous. To see her hold an audience in her thrall was a master class in star power,” said Thomas Schumacher, chairman of The Broadway League. “Hello, Dolly! opened 55 years ago tomorrow. She always was famous for her timing.”
Channing was the recipient of three Tony Awards: a 1964 Best Actress Tony Award for her role in ‘Hello, Dolly!,’ a special award in 1968 and a lifetime achievement award in 1995.
The American Theatre Wing, which created and now co-presents the Tony Awards, issued a statement Tuesday in commemoration of Channing.
“Carol Channing was one of the great icons of the American theater, and a beloved ambassador for this art form. She possessed a quality so unique and so special that she became her own archetype. Though her loss will be felt deeply by fans and professionals alike, her indomitable spirit lives on in the countless leading ladies who have been — and continue to be — influenced by her greatness,” president Heather Hitchens said.
The current Broadway touring company also released a statement in remembrance of Channing.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Carol Channing. She was a ‘Dolly’ for the ages, and a true icon of the American Theater. Betty Buckley and the cast will dedicate tonight’s performance in San Diego to her memory,” the statement reads.
Broadway actors, producers and more posted their condolences and memories of Channing on social media Tuesday.
The great, the legendary #CarolChanning has died at age 97. She was a complete original, and there will never be another. Blonde, 6 ft tall and utterly hilarious, she was a legend. My condolences to the world; to those who knew her or saw her and those who never got the chance.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) January 15, 2019
She was show business and love personified ❤️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/isNzReB733
— Bernadette Peters (@OfficialBPeters) January 15, 2019
We’ll only ever say HELLO, not Goodbye. The legendary #CarolChanning, January 31, 1921 – January 15, 2019. Tomorrow is the 55th anniversary of the original HELLO, DOLLY opening night at the St. James. She will always be Wow Wow Wow, fellas. Forever. pic.twitter.com/OAaskBnkjV
— Jordan Roth (@Jordan_Roth) January 15, 2019
RIP dear wondrous legendary lady. You were one of a kind.❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Me7yB96ciO
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) January 15, 2019
Carol Channing was one of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ earliest and longest champions. She was always in our corner, one of our most beloved and best friends. She will always have a special, cherished spot in the heart of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Forever. pic.twitter.com/IyD96kA97C
— Broadway Cares (@BCEFA) January 15, 2019