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Broadway Star Carol Channing Dies at 97

Channing Played Dolly Levi in 'Hello Dolly' in Over 5,000 Performances

Carol Channing, the legendary Broadway actress who portrayed Dolly Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” died in her home in Racho Mirage, California, her publicist said in a statement. She would have turned 98 on January 31.

“It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon – Miss Carol Channing. I admired her before I met her, and have loved her since the day she stepped … or fell rather … into my life,” her publicist B Harlan Boll in a statement. “It is so very hard to see the final curtain lower on a woman who has been a daily part of my life for more than a third of it. We supported each other, cried with each other, argued with each other, but always ended up laughing with each other.”

Born on Jan. 31, 1921, Channing got her start in the 1949 Broadway play “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Years later, she would star in “Hello, Dolly!” and win the 1964 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, which she ultimately played in over 5,000 performances over the course of her career.

Channing was also nominated for Best Actress in a Musical three other times, including in 1956 for “The Vamp,” 1961 for “Show Girl” and 1974 for “Lorelei.” And her movie appearances included “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The First Traveling Saleslady” and “Skidoo.” She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

Later in her career, Channing was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for her work on “Hello, Dolly!” and received a Tony Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the AIDS and Actors’ Fund.