So long, Dolly: Carol Channing is dead at 97

The Broadway veteran won a Tony Award for Best Actress in the 1964 musical ‘Hello, Dolly!’ – only to see the film role go to Barbra Streisand.

The movie proved a disaster.

The only child of newspaper editor George Channing, she grew up in San Francisco and made her Broadway debut in 1949 in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.

She married four times.

 

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  • “The movie proved a disaster.” You mean other than making boatloads of money and winning a few Academy Awards, right?

      • Yea, I guess that’s right. I was thinking gross income (Wiki says in the top five for its year) and neglected profit. And now that I’ve been driven to Wiki, it says that reviews started positive but in later years no so much.

      • Yes and No. It lost lots of money in 1969, but TV re-releases, Videocassettes, DVD’s and Streaming revenues in the intervening years have made millions of dollars in profits for FOX. In fact, her death (even though she isn’t in the film) will probably spike many Downloads over the next few weeks.

        Its biggest impact was dashing Gene Kelley’s hopes of doing lots of Film Directing.

  • Actually I quite liked the film (OK, I went with my mum, whaddya expect?) and thought Streisand was very good in it, enhanced by a strong supporting cast which included Louis Armstrong. But it was too cutesy and full of pastel-overload by the time it hit the big screen. 1969 was a totally different beast from 1964, and public tastes had shifted radically (remember when you first heard or saw “Hair” for the first time?) so it just fell off the radar. Anyway, I went home having enjoyed it far more than I expected to. I’d loved to have seen Bette Midler in the Broadway reprise, though.

  • I saw Channing tour Dolly in Seattle at the 5th Avenue theater there and was glad I did. I’ve never seen anyone who loved, no adored, performing more than she and took over a stage and auditorium like she did. She had the entire audience on stage with her and, for better or worse, you forgot about the show itself (which is notable for but one song, in any case, and that because of Louis Armstrong.)
    By the way, a great read if you haven’t come across it, James Kirkwood’s Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing.

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