Elaine Stritch: A Toast to the Lady Who Lunch
Dim the stage lights. The world has lost one of the great stars — the “Lady Who Lunch,” Broadway legend and television actress Elaine Stritch. She died last Thursday morning, July 17, 2014, in her home in Birmingham, Michigan. She was suffering from poor health and diabetes. Read further to learn more about this story.
Stritch, who was born on February 2, 1925, has had a career on the stage, television and film, spanning around 70 years.
She made her Broadway debut in 1946 and went on to be Ethel Merman’s understudy in “Call Me Madam.” She later went on to play many different roles in various musicals and plays on Broadway and on West End, such as “Pal Joey,” “Mame,” “Company,” “Wonderful Town,” “Bus Stop,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” She most recently replaced Angela Lansbury in the Broadway revival of “A Little Night of Music.”
She was best known for her role as Joanne, in the Stephen Sondheim musical, “Company,” which earned her a Tony nomination in the 70s. Joanne’s anthem, “The Ladies Who Lunch” became Elaine Stritch’s signature song.
She won several Tony Awards, including Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Bus Stop” in 1956; Best Actress in a Musical for “Sail Away” in 1962 and for Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” in 1971; Best Actress in a Play for “A Delicate Balance” in 1996; and Best Special Theatrical Event for her one-woman show, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” in 2002. Her one woman show was later on made into a documentary by D.A. Pennebaker in 2004, which won a number of Emmy Awards. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995.
She had been appearing on television ever since the 1940s. In the 60s, she was known for her role as Eileen Sherwood in the CBS television show, “My Sister Eileen.” In more recent years, she had appeared in several shows, such as “Law & Order,” “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “30 Rock,” as Jack Donaghy’s (Alec Baldwin) mother, Colleen Donaghy. She went on to garner eight Emmy nominations for her work on television and won three Emmy Awards, including an award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety Program for her show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” in 2004.
She had also appeared in various films such as Woody Allen’s “Small Time Crooks” in 2000 and in the 2005 comedy “Monster-in-Law,” alongside Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda.
Until the end, Elaine Stritch was a consummate performer as she continued to perform cabaret acts in the Carlyle Cafe in New York City’s Hotel Carlyle until 2013.
Elaine Stritch was a living legend, an icon and a great performer who has left a legacy behind that will ensure that she will be remembered forever.
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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Greg Hernandez