Carol Channing was one such person. She just always seemed to be around, attending shows, doing interviews, pitching in with charitable causes. That distinctive voice and huge smile are indelibly part of our cultural fabric. She made movies and TV shows, but she belonged to Broadway. And while she played several roles to acclaim, she will always be Dolly Levi.
I had the great fortune of seeing Ms. Channing as the matchmaker more than once. Hello, Dolly! was one of the very first professional productions I ever saw, and I remember my first time seeing it back in the 70's. The show made its impression, of course. It is a classic for a reason. But I will never forget the great lady herself that night.
Before the show began, she came out to address the audience at Baltimore's old Morris Mechanic Theatre. The night before, the hotel across the street where she was staying caught fire. No one was hurt but rescues were needed. She told us, with her trademark wit, the whole story and said she couldn't go on until she thanked the Baltimore Fire Department for saving her life, her dogs, and...her fur coat!
There are a few actors and roles inextricably linked - Zero Mostel and Tevye, Mary Martin and Peter Pan, Carol Channing and Dolly. How fortunate we all were to have her in our lives.
Thank you, Ms. Channing. RIP