Last year, Elaine Stritch gave her final bow at the Cafe Carlyle and went into well-deserved retirement, albeit with a documentary film on the circuit (Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me) and a few public appearances to go (and at least one more F-Bomb to drop on national television). With the news breaking this afternoon, we are saddened to report that the 89 year-old larger-than-life legend passed away earlier this week at her home in Birmingham, Michigan.
In 1942, Stritch arrived in New York City at the tender age of 17 and made her way onto the theater scene, fending off the advances of the likes of Marlon Brando and Richard Burton. She made her Broadway debut in 1946 in Loco (a play that partially inspired How To Marry A Millionaire) and went on to understudy for Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam and land supporting roles in Bus Stop and Noel Coward’s Sail Away. In 1970, she landed arguably her most iconic role of Joanne (“The Ladies Who Lunch”) in Company. She then moved to England in 1972, starring in productions on the West End throughout the next decade, but wouldn’t return to the States until 1982 (after her husband’s death) and Broadway until 1994 (in a revival of Show Boat). Her last role on Broadway was that of Madame Armfeldt, replacing Angela Lansbury in the 2010 revival of A Little Night Music.
Stritch’s notable film roles include A Farewell to Arms (during which she became good friends with leading man Rock Hudson), Who Killed Teddy Bear? (in which she played a lesbian barkeep… in 1965!), and Monster in Law (as Jane Fonda’s own “monster in law”). But she will probably be best remembered by many for her bows on television from early appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show to a recurring “pool boy” bit on The Late Show with David Letterman to stealing scenes as the acid-tongued, sharp-witted mother of Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock.
To celebrate her life and career, we’ve compiled 15 clips that span from her early theater days to her time on the big screen to her twilight fame on television, ending with a bang. Here’s to Elaine Stritch.. Let’s drink to her!
“You’re Just In Love” (from Call Me Madam)
In King Vidor’s A Farewell To Arms
“Someday My Prince Will Come” (On The Dean Martin Show)
“They All Laughed”
Recurring Bits on The Late Show with David Letterman
“Broadway Baby” Rehearsal, Commentary & Performance
On Marlon Brando
Stritch’s Favorite Joke
Stritch’s Last 30 Rock Scene
“Liaisons” (A Little Night Music)
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me Trailer
Alec Baldwin on Stritch
Dropping the F-Bomb on The Today Show
Deconstructing the F-Bomb with Liz Smith (plug in those headphones)
“The Ladies Who Lunch”