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Tony-Winning Broadway Legend Elaine Stritch Dead at 89

Tony-Winning Broadway Legend Elaine Stritch Dead at 89
Elaine Stritch
'Elaine Stritch at Liberty' won the 2002 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event.

Broadway icon Elaine Stritch has died. According to The New York Times, the Tony and three-time Emmy-winning actress passed away at her home in Birmingham, Michigan on July 17. Her death was confirmed by a friend, Julie Keyes. The actress was 89 years old.

Stritch was born on February 2, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. She trained at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School, where her peers included Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau. She made her Broadway debut in Loco in 1946.

Stritch went on to appear in numerous Great White Way productions including Tony-nominated turns in Bus Stop, Sail Away, Company and A Delicate Balance. Her additional Broadway credits included A Little Night Music, Love Letters, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Call Me Madam and Pal Joey. She appeared simultaneously in the latter two; she served as standby to Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam and played reporter Melba Snyder in the 1952 revival of Pal Joey. The double feature included a daily commute from New Haven to New York during Pal Joey’s out-of-town tryout.

In 2002, her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. In the piece, the stage and screen star reflected on stories and songs from her career in show business, as well as her fight with alcoholism. D.A. Pennebaker produced a documentary in 2004 that combined footage of rehearsals and the staged production. The film won two Emmys: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for Stritch and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.

Stritch also won Emmys for her work on 30 Rock and Law & Order. Other notable screen credits included An Inconvenient Woman, Monster-in-Law, A Farewell to Arms and ParaNorman.

A longtime New York resident, Stritch bid farewell to the city in 2013 to return to Michigan. She played a final show at the Café Carlyle (Stritch lived in the Carlyle Hotel for many years) in April 2013. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a documentary of her final years in New York, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival later that month.

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

Stritch provided a master class in resilience throughout the years as she continued to perform despite ongoing struggles with her health. The brassy Broadway luminary always lived up to the Stephen Sondheim lyrics in what became her signature anthem: “Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all and my dear, I’m still here.”
 

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