Carol Channing (1921-2019)

After eight decades in show biz, it’s finally “Goodbye, Dolly”

Carol Channing (Photo by Allan Warren)

You’re to be forgiven if you can’t recall a time when Carol Channing wasn’t a star. She and her platinum tresses and million-watt smile first lit up Broadway in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes back in 1948, and she’s been belting “Hello, Dolly!” since 1964. Alas, that star has fallen. Channing died Jan. 15, two weeks shy of her 98th birthday.

Of course, Broadway is a long way from Austin, as are Seattle (where Channing was born) and Rancho Mirage, Calif. (where she died), but Channing had her Texas connections. Her blockbuster success with Hello, Dolly! occurred during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and she wound up becoming close with LBJ and Lady Bird, especially after she recorded a rewritten version of her show’s title song – “Hello, Lyndon!” – to boost his popularity during the ’64 election.

Then, there was Channing’s 2005 visit to perform her cabaret The First 80 Years Are the Hardest as a fundraiser for Austin Cabaret Theatre. The cabaret’s founder, Stuart Moulton, adored Channing, and she came to adore him, too. It was through Moulton that this reporter was able to interview Channing. The Broadway legend was at home, and we chatted while she cooked breakfast for her husband, Harry Kullijian. The interview was published as “The Carol You Don’t Know” on July 22, 2005. In memory of Carol Channing’s passing, we offer the links to that interview here.

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Austin Cabaret Theatre, Stuart Moulton, Carol Channing, Lyndon Johnson

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