Legendary Broadway actress Carol Channing passes away at 97 Carol Channing died of natural causes at 12:31 a.m. Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, California. She had twice suffered strokes in the last year. Broadway will dim its lights for Channing tomorrow night at 7:45 pm ET, The Broadway League announced today.
Carol Channing was born January 31, 1921, at Seattle, Washington, the daughter of a prominent newspaper editor, who was very active in the Christian Science movement. She attended high school in San Francisco and later worked as a model in Los Angeles. She attended prestigious Bennington College in Vermont and majored in drama and dance and supplemented her work by taking parts in nearby Pocono Resort area.
Carol initially made her mark on Broadway in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” playing Lorelei Lee. In Hello Dolly, she played Dolly Gallagher Levi, the witty, manipulative widow intent upon finding a wealthy husband. The musical won ten Tony awards in 1964, including Channing’s for best actress in a comedy.
Channing’s outsized personality seemed too much for the screen, and she made only a few movies, notably “The First Traveling Saleslady” with Ginger Rogers and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” with Julie Andrews.
Over the years, Channing continued as Dolly in national tours, the last in 1996, when she was in her 70s. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called her “the ninth wonder of the world.”