Broadway legend Elaine Stritch dies aged 89

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 12:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 12:19am


Veteran Broadway actress and singer Elaine Stritch, who enthralled theatre audiences for 70 years with her booming voice and quick-fire comedy delivery, has died aged 89.

Her death at home in Birmingham, Michigan, was confirmed by a close friend. Before moving to Michigan last year, she had lived for years at New York's luxury Carlyle Hotel.

Broadway said it would dim its lights for one minute at 7.45pm yesterday in honour of the legend, who was nominated for four Tony Awards and won three Emmys.

Stritch's career began in the 1940s and despite film and television credits, she was most famous for starring on Broadway and London's West End in plays, musicals and solo cabaret shows.

Admired by English playwright Noel Coward, she won rave reviews in his musical Sail Away in 1961 and acclaim for appearing in an off-Broadway revival of Private Lives.

She had star turns in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Stephen Sondheim's musical Company - particularly admired for her rendition of the vodka-soaked song The Ladies Who Lunch. Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, said: "Collaborating with some of Broadway's greatest playwrights and composers throughout her lengthy career, her signature numbers and singular style created a memorable legacy."

Stritch recently won over younger audiences portraying Alec Baldwin's mother in the hit sitcom 30 Rock.

On film, she made a string of appearances in Woody Allen movies, including September and Small Time Crooks, as well as alongside Richard Gere in Autumn In New York.

In 2002, she won further critical acclaim in New York and London with her one-woman show Elaine Stritch At Liberty, which won a Special Theatrical Event Tony Award.

Her last performance on Broadway came in 2010 as Madame Armfeldt in the revival of the Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music.

Last year, Netflix produced a documentary about her life and career called Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. She married actor John Bay in 1973, but he died in 1982.

Agence France-Presse