Remembering Broadway: Leading Women…The One With An Identifiable Voice Carol Channing
Carol Channing was known for her easily identifiable voice. She was an actress, singer, dancer and comedian who starred in musicals both on Broadway and film.
Her first job on stage in New York City was in Marc Blitzstein’s No for an Answer, at the Mecca Temple (later New York City Center). She was 19 years old. Channing moved to Broadway for Let’s Face It!, in which she was an understudy for Eve Arden, who was 13 years older than Channing. Much later, in 1966, Arden was hired to play the title role in Hello Dolly! in a road company after Channing left to star in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie. Channing won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago’s theatres in 1966 (Eve Arden won the next year).
Five years later, Channing had a featured role in Lend an Ear (1948), for which she received her Theatre World Award and launched her as a star performer. Channing credited illustrator Al Hirschfeld for helping make her a star when he put her image in his widely published illustrations. She said that his drawing of her as a flapper was what helped her get the lead in her next play, the Jule Styne and Anita Loos musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. From that role, as Lorelei Lee, she gained recognition, with her signature song from the production, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” among the most widely known.
In January 1950, Time magazine ran a cover story about her becoming a new star on Broadway, followed by cover stories in Life magazine in 1955 and 1964.
Channing was asked if she would perform with George Burns during his shows. She accepted immediately, and Channing worked on and off with Burns through the late 1950s. Burns also appeared in her TV special, An Evening with Carol Channing, in 1966.
In 1961, Channing became one of the few performers nominated for a Tony Award for work in a revue (rather than a traditional book musical); she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for the short-lived revue Show Girl.
Channing came to national prominence as the star of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! (1964). Her performance as Dolly Levi won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
In the 1960s she was often invited to major events, including the White House, the Democratic convention in 1964 in Atlantic City, New Jersey where she sang “Hello, Lyndon” for Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign. In 1967, she also became the first celebrity to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show.
Channing reprised her role of Lorelei Lee when the musical Lorelei and she performed songs from Hello, Dolly during a special television show in London in 1979.
Channing also appeared in a number of films, including The First Traveling Saleslady (1956), in which she gave future star Clint Eastwood his first onscreen kiss;
the cult film Skidoo; and Thoroughly Modern Millie. For Millie she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.
Due to her success on Broadway in Hello Dolly! and her co-starring role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Channing attracted the attention of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who were interested in starring her in a sitcom. Directed and produced by Arnaz and written by Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Davis (who co-wrote I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show), The Carol Channing Show starred Channing as Carol Hunnicut, a small-town girl trying and failing to make it in New York City show business, but did not sell as a series.
During her film career, Channing also made some guest appearances on television sitcoms and talk shows, including What’s My Line? where she appeared in 11 episodes from 1962 to 1966. Channing did voice-over work in cartoons, most notably as Grandmama in an animated version of The Addams Family from 1992 to 1995. Channing was asked to perform in various skits or appear as a guest on regular shows. In the 1960s, she was on The Andy Williams Show. In 1974, she participated in the television special Free to Be… You and Me.
In 1985, she played the role of the White Queen in the television special Alice in Wonderland. In 1986, Channing appeared on Sesame Street and sang a parody of the song “Hello, Dolly!” called “Hello, Sammy!” Songwriter Jule Styne, who wrote the score for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, invited her on his television special in 1987 where she performed another one of her signature songs, “Little Girl from Little Rock”.
In 1993, she poked a little fun at herself in an episode of The Nanny.
In January 2003, Channing recorded the audiobook of her best-selling autobiography Just Lucky, I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts. In January 2012, the documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (which chronicles Channing’s life and career) was released.
Channing was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1981 and received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1995. She continued to perform and make appearances well into her 90s, singing songs from her repertoire and sharing stories with fans, cabaret-style. She was one of the “legends” interviewed in the award-winning documentary, Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There. She released her autobiography Just Lucky I Guess in 2002, and Larger Than Life was released in 2012, a documentary film about her career.
Channing died from natural causes on January 15, 2019, at her home in Rancho Mirage, California at the age of 97, 16 days before her 98th birthday. On January 16, the lights on Broadway were dimmed in honor of Channing. A crowd congregated outside the St. James Theatre, as it had also been the anniversary of the opening of the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! Her ashes were sprinkled between the Curran Theatre and the Geary Theater in San Francisco.
League of Professional Theatre Women’s 10th Annual Women Stage The World March
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) will hold its 10th Annual “Women Stage the World March” — a Suffragette-inspired project to educate the public about the role of women in the theatre industry — on Saturday, June 17. The march will begin at noon, at Shubert Alley and weave through Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District, wrapping up at about 2 p.m.
“The event is FREE and LPTW invites all theatre women and allies to join us as we increase awareness, lift our voices, and advocate for more opportunities for women in theatre,” said Ludovica Villar-Hauser, Co-President of LPTW.
“The Women Stage the World March is designed to educate the public about the role women play in creating theatre and the barriers they face as men continue to outnumber women by 4 to 1 in key roles such as playwright, director and designers. Women buy 67% of the tickets and represent 65% of the audience, yet 80% of the storytelling on stage is shaped by men’s voices,” said Katrin Hilbe, Co-President of LPTW.
Handouts during the March will prompt ticket-buyers to ask three questions as they make buying decisions: (1) Who wrote, directed and designed this play? (2) What is this theatre’s track record in giving opportunities to women? (3) How can you spread the word and promote women’s voices?
“All participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite historical theatre woman, or dress all in white. March participants will gather at Shubert Alley starting at 11:30 AM, in preparation for the start of the march at noon. Women Stage the World sashes and signs will be provided, as supplies last,” noted Penelope Deen, LPTW member and organizer of the event. Those interested in participating in the event please R.S.V.P. at: https://www.theatrewomen.org/women-stage-the-world or contact Penelope Deen at: Womenstagetheworld@Theatrewomen.org
LPTW Co-President Ludovica Villar-Hauser added: “The League of Professional Theatre Women stands alongside the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as they demand fair wages and take action to ensure more protections for artists. We encourage LPTW members to find a time to join the WGA on the picket lines this month as the strike continues. Women writers are the future of the film and television industry, just as they lead the way in theatre. LPTW supports the women on the frontlines of this movement as they call for long overdue change. We are stronger together.”
For the past 10 years LPTW members, affiliated union members, theatre artists and their allies have hit the streets in a March reminiscent of the Suffragette parades of the early 20th Century, with some marchers dressed in traditional suffrage garb and colors. Like the Suffragettes before them, participants in the Women Stage the World March empower women and men to become aware, take action and influence others.
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) is a membership organization championing women in theatre and advocating for increased equity and access for all theatre women. Our programs and initiatives create community, cultivate leadership, and increase opportunities and recognition for women working in theatre. The organization provides support, networking and collaboration mechanisms for members, and offers professional development and educational opportunities for all theatre women and the general public. LPTW celebrates the historic contributions and contemporary achievements of women in theatre, both nationally and around the globe, and advocates for parity in employment, compensation and recognition for women theatre practitioners through industry-wide initiatives and public policy proposals. LPTW is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Chicago
John Kander & Fred Ebb / Bob Fosse musical Chicago is now the longest running show playing on Broadway. Having played 10,338 performances, Chicago is the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical playing at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St., NYC.
Ham4Ham: Some Like It Hot, Parade and Shucked With Special Guests
Lin-Manuel Miranda brought out a. special edition of Ham4Ham outside the Richard Rodgers Theater yesterday and it was a star studded afternoon.
First up Leopoldstadt stars Josh Molina and Brandon Uranowitz introduced Some Like It Hot‘s J. Harrison Ghee, who performed “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” accompanied by the show’s composer, Marc Shaiman. You can watch the beginning of this and the whole performance of that song here.
Then Nikki Crawford and playwright James Ijames from Fat Ham, introduced composer Jason Robert Brown and performers Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond who perform the duet “This Is Not Over Yet” from the must see revival of Parade.
The Thanksgiving Play stars D’Arcy Carden and Chris Sullivan introduced book writer Robert Horn and the Tony-nominated cast of Shucked recreated new lyrics for “We Love Jesus” and a parody of Hamilton‘s “The Story of Tonight.”led by Ashley D. Kelley, Grey Henson, Andrew Durand and Kevin Cahoon
This was a spectacular afternoon that can only be had in NYC.
T2c would love to thank these three ladies who gave us a chair to sit on.
The Outer Critics Circle Awards and You Are There Part 2
Yesterday the 72nd Annual Awards honoring achievements in the 2022-2023 Broadway and Off-Broadway season were presented at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Here are highlights from the show.
Outstanding New Score: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – Some Like It Hot
T2c interviewed the fantastic duo.
Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Bill Irwin –Endgame
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Alex Newell – Shucked
Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: J. Harrison Ghee
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Brandon Uranowitz – Leopoldstadt
T2c talked to this amazing performer before the ceremony.
Special Achievement Award:To B.H. Barry, one of the world’s foremost fight directors.
Outstanding New Broadway Play: Leopoldstadt and Outstanding Director of a Play:Patrick Marber – Leopoldstadt
Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Some Like It Hot Robert E. Wankel and Neil Meron
Broadway’s Samantha Pauly and Reeve Carney Come To Chelsea Table and Stage
On May 29th catch Samantha Pauly for Memorial Day. Best known for originating the role of Katherine Howard in Broadway’s smash hit SIX the Musical, and her captivating performance as Eva Peron in Jamie Lloyd’s critically acclaimed revival of Evita on London’s West End, Samantha Pauly has carefully crafted an evening that reflects the last few years of her life. Join this Grammy nominee and Drama Desk Award winner as she revisits some career highlights, Broadway classics, pop/rock favorites, and all the fun stuff in between.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and actor Reeve Carneyreturns to Chelsea Table + Stage June 4th to perform a night of music honoring the artistry of the legendary rock n’ roll supergroup Led Zeppelin. Carney is best known for his portrayal of Dorian Grayin on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Riff Raff in Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Reimagining, as well as originating the role of Peter Parker in Julie Taymor/U2’s Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. He is currently starring in the Broadway blockbuster, Hadestown. Reeve Carney delivers a one-man-show cabaret that feels more like an invitation-only after-party than a traditional concert performance. Don’t miss this special performance from one of Broadway’s leading actors!
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