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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 03
Seattle-born Carol Channing dies at age 97
Section One
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Seattle-born Carol Channing dies at age 97

by Tim Peter - SGN Contributing Writer

Broadway star and LGBTQ icon Carol Channing died Tuesday, January 15, at age 97, less than a month from her 98th birthday. She won a Tony Lifetime Achievement Award and was most known for her Broadway roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949) and Hello, Dolly! (1964), in which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. As a film actress, she won the Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Oscar, Best Supporting Actress, for her performance as Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967).

Her other film appearances include The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) and Skidoo (1968). On television, she appeared on variety shows including 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in the 1950s and 'Hollywood Squares.' She had an outstanding performance as The White Queen in the TV production of 'Alice in Wonderland' (1985) and had the first of many TV specials in 1966 with 'An Evening with Carol Channing.'

'A stamp of approval from the gay community is almost a guarantee of success,' Channing said in a 2013 interview. 'Just ask Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler or Cher.'

'She was one of the greatest musical theater icons, and you know how gays love musical theater,' gay journalist Michael Musto told NBC News. 'She was the definition of gay camp in that she was over the top, but she was always in on the joke.'

Channing was born in Seattle on January 31, 1921, the only child of Adelaide and George Channing. Her father, who was multiracial (black and white), changed his surname from Stucker to Channing before Carol's birth. A city editor at The Seattle Star, he took a job in San Francisco, and the family moved when she was two weeks old. He became a Christian Science practitioner, editor and teacher.

Channing's work for the LGBTQ community was more than her stage performance. She became a steadfast activist for HIV/AIDS during the height of the epidemic, working with several organizations including Aid for AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

'Carol Channing was one of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' earliest and longest champions,' the organization's executive director, Tom Viola, told NBC News in a written statement. 'Carol was always in our corner, one of our most beloved and best friends. Carol Channing will always have a special, cherished spot in the heart of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Forever.'

She was married four times, to Theodore Nadish, Alexander Carson, Charles Lowe and Harry Kullijian. She is survived by a son, Pulitzer-nominated cartoonist Channing Lowe.

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