When I first came to New York my boyfriend took me to The Carlyle to see Barbara Cook. During the show her microphone broke and she asked if anyone had any questions. I raised my hand and was called on, I asked if she taught singing lessons. She ignored me and moved on. Being stubborn and now obsessed with the idea, I would not take no for an answer. I ended up on Riverside Drive nervous as hell to meet the legend in person. At the time any soprano worth her weight in salt wanted to be Barbara Cook and I was no exception. I went on to study with her weekly for about six months, when she told me I no longer needed her. That was untrue, but she was like that, she wanted me to fly.
It is with great sadness that I write that the legendary star of Plain and Fancy, Candide, The Music Man and She Loves Me has died. As of this morning the glorious voice of Broadway past passed away at 89 from respiratory failure.
In the 50’s if you wanted a clear soprano with bell like tones Barbara Cook was who you hired. In 1956, she was Broadway’s most celebrated ingénue as she stop the show nightly with “Glitter and Be Gay,” from Candide.
In 1957 she was cast as Marian the Librarian in The Music Man and won a Tony Award. She was devastated when she lost the film role to Shirley Jones and became depressed. Turning to alcohol she put on weight and by 1973 her career came to a halt.
Surrounded by family and friends, according to publicist Amanda Kaus, her son told The Post, “And vanilla ice cream is the last thing she ate — the God’s honest truth”.