Carol Channing, the Broadway icon who became legendary for performances in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Hello, Dolly! has died, according to The New York Times. Channing’s publicist, B. Harlan Boll, confirmed the news, noting that she had suffered two strokes in the past year. She was 97 years old.
Channing began her theater career in 1941, before gaining notice as Lorelei Lee in the 1949 Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She went on to originate the lead role in Hello, Dolly!, which earned her a Tony award in 1964 for Best Actress in a Musical. Channing continued performing well into her later years, reprising her Hello, Dolly! role in 1977, 1981, and again in 1994, at the age of 73. During the final performance in 1995–her last on Broadway–Channing said, “Performing is the only excuse for my existence. What can be better than this?”
In addition to her prolific theater career, Channing lent her memorable voice to animated films, such as 1990's Happily Ever After and 1994's Thumbelina, and portrayed the White Queen in the two-part 1985 television adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Channing frequently appeared on television as herself, on classic shows like The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, and Sesame Street, among others. In recent years, Channing had been a guest on episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List.
Tributes to the theater legend have been pouring in on social media: