Hello Dolly's Carol Channing dies aged 97

Deanna Kelley
January 16, 2019

Broadway legend Carol Channing, best known for her role on stage in Hello, Dolly!, has passed away, according to multiple reports.

Channing famously beat out Barbra Streisand, who starred in Funny Girl, for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her starring turn.

Publicist B. Harlan Boll, who confirmed her death to USA TODAY, said the actress died of natural causes after suffering two strokes previous year. Her looks could have made her the younger sister of Danny La Rue, the actor who in 1984 played Mrs Levi in the West End.

"I admired her before I met her, and have loved her since the day she stepped. or fell rather, into my life", B. Harlan Boll added.

The current touring company for "Hello Dolly!" released a statement Tuesday on the star's death.

Her gravelly voice and big, bright smile became the trademarks of a performer who originated some of Broadway's most iconic roles throughout the '40s, '50s and '60s.

A spokesperson for Hello, Dolly! said the actress was "a true icon of the American theatre", and the show's cast would dedicate tonight's performance in San Diego to her memory.

She died Tuesday of natural causes just days before her 98th birthday. Channing's mother was German Jewish and her father was African American and German.

Married four times, Channing is survived by her son Channing Lowe, an acclaimed editorial cartoonist.

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In 1956 she married a television producer, Charles Lowe, who seemed like the ideal mate for a major star.

Channing continued to work well into her 90s. He reportedly viewed every one of her performances from out front, leading the applause.

After 41 years of marriage, she sued for divorce in 1998, alleging that he misused her funds and humiliated her in public.

It became the role that would help to define her career, and she reprised it in multiple productions over the decades.

"The only thing about control freak victims is that they don't know who they are", she told The Washington Post. I was miserable. I was unhappy.

Channing remarried in 2003 to Harry Kullijian, her childhood sweetheart from 70 years before.

Tributes poured in for Carol on Twitter with one person writing: "Goodbye to Carol Channing, with much gratitude to her for providing so much joy". He died of an aneurism in 2011. She wrote that she came home from kindergarten and noted that all the little girls hit the little boys.

She responded: "Oh no, I pet them".

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