Channing in 1960
Carol Elaine Channing|
January 31, 1921
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bennington College|
|Occupation||Actress, voice artist, singer|
|Years active||1941– present|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
Theodore Naidish (m. 1941; div. 1944)|
Alexander Carson (m. 1953; div. 1956)
Charles Lowe (m. 1956; d. 1999)
Harry Kullijian (m. 2003; d. 2011)
Carol Elaine Channing (born January 31, 1921) is an American actress, singer, dancer, comedian, and voice artist.
She won the Golden Globe Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Other film appearances include The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) and Skidoo (1968). On television she has made many appearances as an entertainer on variety shows, from the The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950s to Hollywood Squares. She is also known for her performance as The White Queen in a 1985 production of Alice in Wonderland.
Channing was nominated for her first Tony Award in 1956 for The Vamp. Her second nomination came in 1961 for Show Girl. In 1964 she originated the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She received her fourth Tony Award nomination for the musical Lorelei in 1974. Lorelei was a re-imagining of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a 1949 musical which starred Channing in the lead role of Lorelei Lee, which made her a star.
Channing was inducted to the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981, and received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1995. She continues to perform and make appearances, singing songs from her repertoire and sharing stories with fans, cabaret style. She released an autobiography titled Just Lucky I Guess in 2002. A documentary about her was released in 2012 titled Larger Than Life.
Channing was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 31, 1921, the only child of George and Adelaide Channing (née Glaser; 1886–1984). Her father was born George Christian Stucker, but changed his surname before his daughter's birth.:50 A city editor at the Seattle Star, her father took a job in San Francisco and the family moved when Channing was two weeks old. Her father later became a Christian Science practitioner, editor, and teacher. She attended Aptos Junior High School and Lowell High School, San Francisco, graduating in 1938. She won the Crusaders' Oratorical Contest and a free trip to Hawaii with her mother in June 1937.
According to Channing's 2002 memoir, when she left home to attend Bennington College in Vermont, her mother informed her that her father George, whom Channing had believed was born in Rhode Island, had actually been born in Augusta, Georgia. Adelaide said her husband's father was German-American and his mother was African American. Channing's paternal grandmother had moved with George to Providence, Rhode Island for his opportunities. Channing learned she "was part Negro" when she was sixteen.:8 Her mother told her because now that her daughter was going off to college, she didn't want her to be surprised "if she had a black baby".:8 Channing's mother's family was of German descent.
As she was of majority European-American ancestry, Channing continued to identify as white as a performer on Broadway and in Hollywood. She made her claim to African-American ancestry in her autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess (2002), which contains a photograph of her mother, but no photos of her father or son.:8 She writes in the book that her father's birth certificate was destroyed in a fire.
Channing was introduced to the stage while helping her mother. In a 2005 interview with the Austin Chronicle, Channing recounted this experience:
My mother said, "Carol, would you like to help me distribute Christian Science Monitors backstage at the live theatres in San Francisco?" And I said, "All right, I'll help you." I don't know how old I was. I must have been little. We went through the stage door alley (for the Curran Theatre), and I couldn't get the stage door open. My mother came and opened it very well. Anyway, my mother went to put the Monitors where they were supposed to go for the actors and the crew and the musicians, and she left me alone. And I stood there and realized – I'll never forget it because it came over me so strongly – that this is a temple. This is a cathedral. It's a mosque. It's a mother church. This is for people who have gotten a glimpse of creation and all they do is recreate it. I stood there and wanted to kiss the floorboards.
Channing's first job on stage in New York was in Marc Blitzstein's No for an Answer, starting January 5, 1941, at the Mecca Temple (later New York's City Center). She was 19 years old. Channing moved to Broadway for Let's Face It!, in which she was an understudy for Eve Arden. Decades later, Arden would play Dolly in a road company after Channing finally relinquished her signature role.
Five years later, Channing had a featured role in Lend an Ear, for which she received her Theatre World Award. She was spotted by author Anita Loos and cast in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelei Lee, the role that gained her recognition (her signature song from the production was "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"). In 1961, Channing became one of the few performers nominated for a Tony Award for work in a revue (rather than a traditional book musical); she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for the short-lived revue Show Girl.
Channing came to national prominence as the star of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! (1964). Her performance as Dolly won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, in a year when her chief competition was Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl and Bea Lillie for High Spirits. Channing reprised her role of Lorelei Lee when the musical Lorelei, directed by Robert Moore and choreographed by Ernest O. Flatt, premiered in 1973 at the Oklahoma City (6000 seat) Civic Center Music Hall and broke all box office records after six days worth of performances sold out within 24 hours.
To commemorate this record event, the street running in front of the Music Hall was renamed Channing Square Drive in honor of Miss Channing. Also in the cast were Tamara Long as Dorothy and Peter Palmer as Gus, with Brandon Maggart, Dody Goodman, and Lee Roy Reams in supporting roles. For nearly a year, the stage musical then toured 11 cities across the country. Lorelei had already earned a hefty profit by the time it opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on January 27, 1974 and ran for a total of 320 performances. Channing also appeared in two New York City revivals of Hello, Dolly!, and toured with it extensively throughout the United States.
She also appeared in a number of films, including The First Traveling Sales Lady (1956; with Ginger Rogers and Clint Eastwood), the cult film Skidoo, and Thoroughly Modern Millie (starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Beatrice Lillie). For Millie she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.
Due to her success on Broadway in Hello Dolly! and her co-starring role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Channing attracted the attentions of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who were interested in starring her in a sitcom. Directed and produced by Arnaz and written by Bob Carroll, Jr. and Madelyn Davis (who co-wrote I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show), The Carol Channing Show starred Channing as Carol Hunnicut, a small-town girl trying and failing to make it in New York City show business. Character actors Richard Deacon and Jane Dulo were in the supporting cast. The pilot was filmed in front of a live audience (with a laugh track added) at Desilu in 1966, but did not sell as a series.
In 1966, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. During her film career, Channing also made some guest appearances on television sitcoms and talk shows, including What's My Line?, where she appeared in 11 episodes from 1962 to 1966. Channing did voice-over work in cartoons, most notably as Grandmama in an animated version of The Addams Family from 1992-95.
In 1986, Channing appeared on Sesame Street and sang a parody of the song "Hello, Dolly!" called "Hello, Sammy!". She performed it as a love song to Sammy the Snake (voiced by Jim Henson) as Sammy coiled himself around Channing's arms. This song includes lyrics, such as, "So... turn on your charm, Sammy/Coil yourself around my arm, Sammy/Sammy the Snake, I'll stake a claim on you." In 1993, she poked a little fun at herself in an episode of The Nanny. The episode "Smoke Gets in Your Lies" shows the producer auditioning for a new musical and Channing, playing herself, is trying out. Just after the producer announces he wants a stage presence that is instantly recognizable to the entire country, Channing begins with her signature "Hello, Dolly!", but he stops her with a resounding "Next!".
In January 2003, Channing recorded the audiobook of her best-selling autobiography Just Lucky, I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts, directed and produced by Steve Garrin at VideoActive Productions in New York City. It was during the recording sessions that she received a phone call from her childhood sweetheart Harry Kullijian that rekindled their romance and led to their marriage a few months later. In January 2011, the documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (which chronicles Channing's life and career) was released.
Channing has been married four times. Her first husband Theodore Naidish was a writer. Her second husband Alexander Carson played center for the Ottawa Rough Riders Canadian football team. They had one son named Channing Carson.
In 1956, Channing married her manager and publicist Charles Lowe. They remained married for 42 years. During this time, her son Channing Carson took his stepfather's surname; he publishes his cartoons as Chan Lowe and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Channing filed for divorce from Lowe in 1998, but her estranged husband died before the divorce was finalized.
On May 10, 2003, she married Harry Kullijian (December 27, 1919 – December 26, 2011), her junior high-school sweetheart, who reunited with her after she mentioned him fondly in her memoir. The two performed at their old junior high school, which had become Aptos Middle School, in a benefit for the school. She and Kullijian were active in promoting arts education in California schools through their Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation. The couple resided in Modesto, California. Harry Kullijian died on December 26, 2011, the eve of his 92nd birthday.
Channing is an ovarian cancer survivor.
Legacy and honors
- 1970, Channing was the first celebrity to perform at a Super Bowl halftime.
- 1981, Channing was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
- 1995, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.
- The city of San Francisco, California, proclaimed February 25, 2002, to be Carol Channing Day, for her advocacy of gay rights and her appearance as the celebrity host of the Gay Pride Day festivities in Hollywood.
- 2004, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University, Stanislaus.
- 2004, she also received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre.
- 2010, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.
- 1984, Lowell High School renamed its auditorium "The Carol Channing Theatre" in her honor.
- Also in 2010, drag queen Pandora Boxx impersonated Carol in RuPaul's Drag Race "Snatch Game" episode. Pandora got great reviews for her interpretation and was one of the top drags of the episode. The judges told that she was committed to the character the entire challenge and managed to bring all the expressions from Carol. In 2016, Channing was again portrayed in Rupaul's Drag Race" in Season 8's "Snatch Game." Bob the Drag Queen won the challenge with his dual interpretations of Channing and Uzo Aduba.
- In December 2010, Channing was honored at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Gypsy of the Year competition.
- In 1973, it came to light during the Watergate hearings that Channing was on a master list of Nixon's political opponents, informally known as Nixon's "enemies list". She has subsequently said that her appearance on this list was the highest honor in her career.
- No For an Answer (1941)
- Let's Face It! (1941) (understudy for Eve Arden)
- Proof Thro' the Night (1942)
- Lend an Ear (1948)
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949; 1951)
- Pygmalion (1953)
- Wonderful Town (1954) (replacement for Rosalind Russell)
- The Vamp (1955)
- Show Business (1959)
- Show Girl (1961)
- The Millionairess (1963)
- Hello, Dolly! (1964; 1977; 1981; 1994)
- Four on a Garden (1971)
- Lorelei (1973)
- Julie's Friends at the Palace (1974) (benefit concert)
- The Bed Before Yesterday (1976)
- Sugar Babies (1980)
- Jerry's Girls (1984)
- Legends (1985)
- Happy Birthday, Mr. Abbott! or Night of 100 Years (1987) (benefit concert)
- Broadway at the Bowl (1988)
- Give My Regards to Broadway (1991) (benefit concert)
- Singular Sensations (2003)
- Razzle Dazzle! (2004)
- Carol Channing: The First Eighty Years Are the Hardest (2005)
|1950||Paid in Full||Mrs. Peters|
|1956||The First Traveling Saleslady||Molly Wade|
|1967||All About People||Narrator||Short film|
|1967||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Muzzy Van Hossmere||Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1971||Shinbone Alley||Mehitabel||Voice role|
|1978||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band||Guest at Heartland||Cameo|
|1983||Parade of Stars||Lorelei Lee||Television film|
|1985||Alice in Wonderland||White Queen||Two-part television film|
|1993||Happily Ever After||Muddy||Voice role|
|1994||Thumbelina||Ms. Fieldmouse||Voice role|
|1998||The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars||Fanny||Voice role|
|2003||Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There||Herself|
|2011||Carol Channing: Larger Than Life||Herself||Documentary|
|1957||The Red Skelton Show, Starring Red Skelton||Daisy June||2 episodes|
|1962-66||What's My Line?||Herself||11 episodes|
|1958||The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford||Herself||2 episodes|
|1971||The Flip Wilson Show||Herself||1 episode|
|1980||The Muppet Show||Herself||1 episode|
|1981||The Love Boat||Varying roles||7 episodes|
|1983||Magnum, P.I.||Herself||1 episode|
|1986-88||Sesame Street||Herself||2 episodes|
|1990||Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers||Canina LaFur||2 episodes; voice role|
|1991||Where's Waldo?||Varying roles||13 episodes|
|1992-93||The Addams Family||Grandmama Addams; voice role||15 episodes|
|1993||2 Stupid Dogs||Wicked Witch / Elderly Woman||2 episodes; voice role|
|1993||The Nanny||Herself||1 episode|
|1994||The Magic School Bus||Cornelia C. Contralto II||1 episode; voice role|
|1994||Burke's Law||1 episode|
|1995||Space Ghost Coast to Coast||Herself||1 episode|
|1998||Style & Substance||Herself||1 episode|
|2006||Family Guy||Herself||1 episode; voice role|
|2006||Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List||Herself||1 episode|
|2016||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself||1 episode|
- Original Cast Albums:
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Columbia Records, 1950
- Show Girl, 1961
- Hello, Dolly!, RCA Records, 1964
- Lorelei, Decca Records, 1974
- Hello, Dolly!, 1994
- Additional albums:
- Archy And Mehitabel - A Back-Alley Opera (with Eddie Bracken), 1954
- Carol Channing, Vanguard Records, 1961
- Carol Channing Reads Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Caedmon Records, 1962
- Carol Channing Entertains, Command Records, 1965
- Carol Channing Reads Madeleine, Caedmon Records, 1970s
- C and W (with Webb Pierce), Plantation Records, 1976
- Carol Channing and Her Country Friends (guest appearances by Jimmy C. Newman, Hank Locklin, and others), Plantation Records, 1977
- Carol Channing on Tour, 51 West Records, 1980
- Jazz Baby, DRG Records. 1994
- "Just Lucky, I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts", Audiobook, 2003
- For Heaven's Sake, New Day Records, 2010
- True To The Red, White, and Blue, Homesick Entertainment, 2012
Awards and nominations
|1956||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Musical||The Vamp||Nominated|
|1968||Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Nominated|
|Golden Globes||Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||Won|
|Tony Award||Special Award||Won|
|1974||Best Actress in a Musical||Lorelei||Nominated|
|1995||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
|2002||Grammy Awards||Grammy Hall of Fame||Hello, Dolly! Original Broadway Cast Recording||Won|
- Potempa, Phil (2014-08-09). "OFFBEAT WITH PHIL POTEMPA: Carol Channing, 93, teams with Tune for stage tour". NWI Times. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
- Denise Ames (February 12, 2016). "One-on-One with Show Biz Legend Carol Channing". The Tolucan Times.
- "Carol Channing biography" tcm.com; retrieved August 17, 2010.
- Channing, Carol. Just Lucky I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts, Simon & Schuster, (2002), ISBN 0743216067
- Zinko, Carolyne (May 11, 2003). "Carol Channing marries long-time sweetheart", reprinted at lowellalumni.org; retrieved June 10, 2013.
- "Carol Channing on The Wendy Williams Show". The Wendy Show. 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
- "Carol Channing reveals her father was Black". Jet. November 4, 2002. Retrieved April 21, 2008.
- "CNN.com". CNN.
- Carol Channing biodata, articles.chicagotribune.com, May 22, 2003; accessed May 10, 2014.
- The November 4, 2002, issue of Jet magazine reported, based on her autobiography, that Channing's father was African-American.
- Faires, Robert (July 22, 2005). "The Carol You Don't Know". Austin Chronicle, Online Edition. Retrieved May 10, 2006.
- "1961 Tony Award Winners - Browse by Year". BroadwayWorld.com. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- Price, Mary Sue (1984-09-30). "Well, Hello, Carol! That Luminous Lady Lights City's Night". NewsOK. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
- "Hello, Dolly! on Broadway". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
- "Awards for Thoroughly Modern Millie". Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "The 40th Academy Awards (1968) Nominees and Winners". The Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Award Search. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Carol Channing sings to Sammy the Snake on YouTube
- "Documentary film about Carol Channing premieres in January 2011", latimes.com, January 20, 2012; accessed September 29, 2015.
- Shapiro, Eddie. Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater. p. 33.
- "Meet Chan Lowe". Slate. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved April 21, 2008.
- Oliver, Myrna (1999-09-05). "Obituaries : Charles Lowe; Husband of Carol Channing". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
- Winn, Steven (October 24, 2002). "Looking swell: Carol Channing's back in the spotlight with memoir and plans for new show". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2008.
- Estate sale dim on star power Archived July 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., modbee.com, July 19, 2013.
- "Carol Channing on her battle with ovarian cancer", outinperth.com; accessed September 29, 2015.
- Excerpt from Channing bio re her battle with ovarian cancer, nydailynews.com; accessed September 29, 2015.
- "26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame", The New York Times, March 3, 1981.
- Hodgins, Paul (February 4, 2006). "Carol Channing: A Lifetime of Experience". Orange County Register. Retrieved August 21, 2007.
- Moran, Frankie. "Carol Channing to Offer Highlights From Her Six Decade Career". North County Timesdate=November 8, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2007.
- Gans, Andrew (May 13, 2004). "Carol Channing Honored By York Theatre Company". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on December 18, 2004. Retrieved September 21, 2008.
- Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated.
- "Episode Detail: Carol Channing, David Steinberg - The Flip Wilson Show". The Flip Wilson Show Episodes on NBC. TV Guide. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- "Episode Detail: Carol Channing, Ed Asner, Donny Hathaway - The Flip Wilson Show". The Flip Wilson Show Episodes on NBC. TV Guide. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- Just Lucky I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts by Carol Channing (Simon & Schuster, 2002)
- Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing by James Kirkwood, Jr., about production of the play "Legends" (Dutton, 1989)
- Carol Channing at the Internet Movie Database
- Carol Channing at the Internet Broadway Database
- Carol Channing|PlaybillVault.com
- Carol Channing at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Carol Channing - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org
- TonyAwards.com Interview with Carol Channing
- Photo of Carol Channing in 1965 with her son, Chan
- American Foundation for Arts Education
- Channing-Kullijian Foundation for the Arts at the Wayback Machine (archived April 12, 2009)