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Carol Channing

Carol Channing has worked primarily as a comic stage actress and singer, along with occasional movie and television appearances. A leggy blonde with popping eyes and a voice that ranges from a baby squeal to a baritone growl, she has an oversized style that was best expressed in her two signature roles: as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!

Channing attended Bennington College where she studied dance and drama, then headed for New York, where she performed in clubs before making her Broadway debut in the chorus of the musical No for an Answer (January 5, 1941. She was an understudy in the musical Let's Face It! (October 29, 1941). Moving to Los Angeles, she worked as a model and also performed on the nightclub circuit. She landed a part in the revue Lend an Ear, which began on the West Coast, then moved to New York, opening on Broadway on December 16, 1948, for a run of 460 performances. In it, she spoofed a 1920s flapper, which led to her starring role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (December 8, 1949), based on Anita Loos' novel, in which, as gold-digging Lorelei Lee, she became a Broadway star singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The show ran 740 performances, and the cast album was a Top Ten hit in 1950.

Channing appeared in her first film, with a small part in the drama Paid in Full in 1950. She worked in clubs and on television in the early '50s. In 1954, she replaced Rosalind Russell in the Broadway musical Wonderful Town, then starred in the Broadway musical The Vamp (November 10, 1955), which had only a brief run. In 1956, she was in the film comedy The First Traveling Saleslady. She returned to Broadway in the musical Show Girl (January 12, 1961), a virtual one-woman show, which ran for three months and then toured successfully. The Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! (January 15, 1964) was her crowning achievement; she won the Tony Award for her performance, and the cast album was a gold-selling number one hit. She starred in the show for a year-and-a-half on Broadway, then toured with it into 1967. That year, she was featured in the movie musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, earning an Academy Award nomination, and in the following year was part of the all-star cast in the film comedy Skidoo.

Channing appeared on television in the late '60s and '70s, while touring and performing around the world in a series of musicals, plays, and revues that included Carol Channing with Her Stout-Hearted Men (1970), Four on a Garden (1971), Cabaret (1972), Festival at Ford's (1972), and Carol Channing and Her Gentlemen Who Prefer Blondes (1972). In 1973, she undertook a tour of a revised version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes under the title Lorelei. It opened on Broadway on January 24, 1974, and ran out the season, then returned to the road into 1975. In 1977, she returned to her most popular role with a national tour of Hello, Dolly! that opened on Broadway on March 5, 1978. Also in 1978, she had a cameo in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 1986, she toured in the play Legends with Mary Martin. She toured in a 30th anniversary production of Hello, Dolly! in 1994 that brought her back to Broadway in 1995. ~ William Ruhlmann
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Broadway

1. Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'

2. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top

7. June Is Bustin' Out All Over

9. Some Enchanted Evening

10. Bali Ha'i

12. This Nearly Was Mine

13. I Whistle A Happy Tune

14. Getting To Know You

15. Shall We Dance

16. Ol' Man River

18. Baubles, Bangles And Beads

19. Stranger In Paradise

21. I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'

22. It Ain't Necessarily So

23. I Got Rhythm

24. The Hostess With The Mostes'

27. Doin' What Comes Natur'lly

28. You Can't Get A Man With A Gun

30. Anything You Can Do

32. Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

38. So In Love

42. Once In Love With Amy

43. The Oldest Established

44. I'll Know

45. A Bushel And A Peck

46. Guys And Dolls

x

Track List: Broadway: The American Musical

Disc 1

2. Swanee

3. When The Moon Shines On The Moonshine

7. If You Knew Susie (Like I Know Susie)

9. Bill

10. Ol' Man River

11. Ain't Misbehavin'

12. Ten Cents A Dance

14. Brother, Can You Spare A Dime

15. Night And Day

16. Heat Wave

18. You're The Top

20. September Song

21. My Heart Belongs To Daddy

22. It Never Entered My Mind

25. Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'

Disc 2

3. Come Rain Or Come Shine

4. There's No Business Like Show Business

5. How Are Things In Glocca Morra

6. Once In Love With Amy

8. Some Enchanted Evening

10. Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

12. Getting To Know You

14. Stranger In Paradise

18. I Could Have Danced All Night

21. Glitter And Be Gay

22. Tonight

Disc 3

1. Seventy-Six Trombones

3. Everything's Coming Up Roses

4. My Favorite Things

6. Try To Remember

7. Camelot

9. I Believe In You

11. Comedy Tonight

12. What Kind Of Fool Am I?

15. People

17. If I Were A Rich Man

18. Night Song

19. The Impossible Dream

Disc 4

4. Ladies Who Lunch

7. I Don't Know How To Love Him

10. Send In The Clowns

13. All That Jazz

14. Tomorrow

15. Don't Cry For Me Argentina

18. And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going

Disc 5

1. Memory

3. Move On

5. The Music Of The Night

9. With One Look

12. Seasons Of Love

17. Movin' Out

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Wow! Carol Channing was amazing! She gave Dolly a wonderful nuance and mystery. I saw her perform Dolly when I was 11. It was at the St James theater and after the show my mom took me to Sardi's for dinner. I was hooked on Broadway. I remember taking the subway to 52nd street at 12 years old, by myself, and spending $3 to sit in the cheapest of seats to see Dolly 3 more times.
Report as inappropriate
I love this and carol Channing ! I saw her on broadway I was 12. And in Vegas when I was 13 . And than in San Antonio on stage. My friend made a pen and ink of her and when I saw her on stage I wrote her a note she wrote back. And now I have it framed with the picture. **+**
Report as inappropriate
jairus.lab
Carol Channing was the best Dolly.
Report as inappropriate
clmcnerny1
Come see me at Cashman center in June to see a mini Barbra Streisand me. I'm dolly in hello dolly :) so it's in Vegas btw
Report as inappropriate
I think Carol Channing is wonderful
Report as inappropriate
I wanted Barbara version!
Report as inappropriate
Saw her perform "Dolly" twice. So what if the guys in the show had to hold her up, at times. Ms. Channing is Dolly,just as Mr. Yul Brynner is the King of Siam.
Report as inappropriate
michaellewis 7 7
Don't want carol channing version

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