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NPR Arts & Life

Carol Channing: In Memoriam Playlist

Carol Channing, performing in Los Angeles in 2004. Channing died Tuesday at age 97.
Carol Channing, performing in Los Angeles in 2004. Channing died Tuesday at age 97.

The late Carol Channing's charisma and ebullience were so big that only a Broadway stage could contain her. In the two iconic roles she created — her breakout turn as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and later, as the fast-talking matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly — her crackling voice and blazing theatrical chops became legendary. Her outsized mouth, fluttering eyes and nimbus of platinum-blonde hair just underscored those gifts.

But she shared some of her comedic magic in other realms, too. Her entry on the Marlo Thomas-speared kids' classic Free To Be ... You And Me, "Housework" (written by lyricist Sheldon Harnick, who also wrote the lyrics for Fiddler On The Roof), is a sparkling takedown of consumer culture, and a sketch called "The Inside Story," from the musical revue Show Girl, isssss a classsssssic.

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