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RIP Carol Channing

It’s impossible for this column to not acknowledge the passing of Carol Channing.  I came into her orbit many times over the years.  Most recently, I interviewed her prior to an appearance she did with Tommy Tune at Town Hall in Provincetown in 2014.  On Facebook, I wrote about that evening and posted a photo of Carol, Marilyn Maye and myself – because it’s rare when I’m the youngest person in a photo!  For you, I have a different anecdote.  In 1999, I was backstage at the re-opening of the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.  Carol was 78 at the time and hadn’t been well.  She shuffled over to a chair in the wings all hunched over and waited for her cue.  After a while, she was helped into position, all the while holding onto the curtain.  She was introduced, more or less thrust into the spotlight, and suddenly she was perfectly erect – a word I try to work into every column.  She sang, danced, and appeared full of life.  When she was out of that spotlight and back in the wings, she immediately hunched over and was back to shuffling.  That’s when I realized that Channing was one of those people who lived to entertain, and lived for the stage.  She never gave less than everything she had – and then some.  Rest in peace, Carol.

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