February 2, 1925—July 17, 2014
Elaine Stritch, the hard-drinking, wise-cracking Broadway legend who in recent years had toured the country with a one-woman show and ended her TV career with a killer recurring role on 30 Rock—and who finally won a goddamn Tony in 2002—died today at 89. She passed away in her hometown of Birmingham, Michigan, just a year after moving back there from New York City upon retiring.
Stritch was the subject of a documentary this year, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2014), which I can vouch for as a very fun and intimate peek at her most unusual world.
Stritch's career is difficult to sum up in a sentence or two, but she was probably most famous for her appearance in the 1970 Stephen Sondheim musical Company, in which she sang one of the most famous songs in musical theater, “The Ladies Who Lunch”. Stritch is also closely identified with the Sondheim song “I'm Still Here”, although the song was first performed on Broadway by Yvonne De Carlo (September 1, 1922—January 8, 2007), thanks to her adoption of it in her show.
She had previously been the toast of Broadway in 1952 in Pal Joey, in which she sang “Zip”, a hysterically funny remembrance of an interview with Gypsy Rose Lee.
Stritch gathered the many songs for which she'd become famous and performed them in her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, for which she finally won that goddamn Tony. Her last-ever stage performance was at her beloved Café Carlyle (she lived for many years in room 309 at the hotel) on April 6, 2013.