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Carol Channing Dead at 97

Carol Channing Dead

Broadway legend Carol Channing, who won a Tony Award for her starring role in Hello, Dolly!, died Tuesday of natural causes. She was 97.

Channing’s publicist gave the following statement to BroadwayWorld:

It is with extreme heartache that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon — Miss Carol Channing. I admired her before I met her, and have loved her since the day she stepped … or fell rather … into my life. It is so very hard to see the final curtain lower on a woman who has been a daily part of my life for more than a third of it. We supported each other, cried with each other, argued with each other, but always ended up laughing with each other. Saying good-bye is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I know that when I feel those uncontrollable urges to laugh at everything and/or nothing at all, it will be because she is with me, tickling my funny bone.

Channing was best known for her stage work, which earned her three more Tony nominations (for The Vamp, Show Girl and Lorelei) in addition to her Hello, Dolly! win in 1964. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award at the 1995 ceremony. After gaining national attention for her theater work, Channing became the first celebrity to perform at a Super Bowl halftime show, taking the field at Super Bowl IV in 1970.

TV audiences knew Channing as The Love Boat‘s Aunt Sylvia Duvall, who appeared numerous times during the series’ decade-long run. She also did voiceover work throughout her career, lending her pipes to an animated version of The Addams Family, as well as Where’s Waldo?, The Magic School Bus and an episode of Family Guy. Other TV work included The Bold and the Beautiful, Touched by an Angel and dozens of game show episodes in the 1970s and ’80s.

Channing’s most notable film role was Thoroughly Modern Millie‘s Muzzy Van Hossmere, for which she won a Golden Globe in 1968 and snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.