Broadway Icon Elaine Stritch Dies at the age of 89

Iconic actress and original 'Broadway Baby' Elaine Stritch has died at the age of 89 at her home in Birmingham, Michigan on Thursday 17 July 2014.

The Tony and three-time Emmy-winning actress, known for her bold and brassy personality, created a number of iconic roles on Broadway, as well as sell-out solo concert performances. A longtime New York resident, Stritch bid farewell to the city in 2013 to return to her home state of Michigan.

Stritch was born on 2 February 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. She began her training at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School, alongside Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau. She made her Broadway debut in Loco by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert at the Biltmore Theatre in 1946 and continued to work on Broadway in productions of Made in Heaven, Angel in the Wings and Yes M'Lord.

Her first musical role was as Ethel Merman's understudy in George Abbott's original production of Call Me Madam which opened in 1950. She simultaneously created the role of Melba Snyder in Pal Joey - a role which called for a daily commute between New York and New Haven during the musical's out of town tryout. This was followed by productions of On Your Toes, Bus Stop and The Sin of Pat Muldoon throughout the late 1950s.

One of her big breaks came whilst performing the lead role in the 1958 musical Goldilocks which was directed and written by Walter Kerr. During the performance, Noel Coward was inspired to write a new musical for her, which became Sail Away at the Broadhurst Theatre in 1961. This production began her friendship with the British comedian and writer.

Albee's Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? followed in 1963, before one of her most iconic roles as Joanne in Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's 1970 musical Company. This role, and especially the song "Ladies Who Lunch" began her affinity with the work of Sondheim, for which she will most fondly be remembered. Stritch reprised the role in London, as well as numerous concert revivals and one-off performances. Her final Broadway credit saw her return to Sondheim, as she took over Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn's 2009 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music, alongside Bernadette Peters.

In 2002, her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. The performance included a mix of stories and songs from throughout her life and career in show business, as well as her fight with alcoholism. The show transferred to London's Old Vic Theatre, and was filmed alongside rehearsal footage, winning two Emmys: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for Stritch and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special. She also won Emmys for her roles in '30 Rock' and 'Law & Order'.

A new documentary titled 'Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me' charted her final years in New York, along with her final concert performances at the Café Carlyle Hotel - a venue the actress lived in for some time. The documentary premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2013, before being released commercially.

Stritch married actor and playwright John Bay in 1973, and the pair remained wed up until his death at the age of 53 in 1982.

Elaine Stritch will be remembered for her bold personality and iconic fashion as well as her memorable performances on stage and screen throughout her career. The Broadway community will show its respect by dimming the lights on all marquees for one minute on Friday 18 July at 7:45pm.

Elaine Stritch: 1925 - 2014

Originally published on

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