Stage and screen legend Carol Channing has died of natural causes, the Associated Press reports. The actress died in her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. at the age of 97. Channing had suffered two strokes last year.
The actress and singer was born in Seattle, Wash. and studied at at Bennington College in Vermont as well as New York's Neighborhood Playhouse of the Theater. She began her career on Broadway with the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), and Channing was immediately successful on the stage scene. She earned a Theatre World Award for her role in Lend an Ear (1949) and went on to nab Tony Award nominations for her work in The Vamp (1956) and Show Girl (1961) before winning the award for Best Actress in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! (1964). She was later again nominated for her work in Lorelei (1974) and was given the Tony's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. The original cast recording of the Hello, Dolly! soundtrack was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Channing was also well known for her cinematic achievements as well and earned a Golden Globe nod and Academy Award nomination for her turn as Muzzy Van Hossmere in the 1967 musical comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie. She was then recruited by TV powerhouses Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to star in her own TV special, The Carol Channing Show, in 1996. That pilot effort was not successful in becoming a series, but Channing's small screen career carried on all the same. She went on to guest star on the sketch comedy series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In before landing a regular role as Aunt Sylvia Duvall on The Love Boat. She also starred as a voice actor on several series, including Where's Waldo? and The Addams Family, in which she played Grandmama Addams.
The multi-talented star was often called upon to appear as herself throughout the years, reviving her famed Hello, Dolly! musical numbers for programs like Sesame Street and The Nanny. She also wasn't afraid to make light of herself — her most recent work was for a segment of Family Guy which featured her as herself in a celebrity boxing match against Mike Tyson, whom she kept calling "young man."
As she famously once said, "Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward."
Channing was also known for her philanthropic efforts, including her arts education foundation with late husband Harry Kullijian and her "mutual love affair" with the LGBTQ community.
I am so sad just lost my incredible original inspiration #carolchanning I saw her in Hello Dolly when I was 8 and she changed my DNA love you lady forever one of the greatest entertainers of all times— Sandra Bernhard (@SandraBernhard) January 15, 2019
One of Broadway's greatest lights, Carol Channing, has passed on. She rejoins the heavens as a new diamond in the night sky, and as she famously sang, they are a girl's best friend. Goodbye and farewell, forever our Dolly. https://t.co/0u2zLcAnff— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 15, 2019