“It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon,” her publicist B Harlan Boll said in a statement. “It is so very hard to see the final curtain lower on a woman who has been a daily part of my life for more than a third of it.”
The platinum-blonde actress with a beaming smile lured crowds to Broadway for over five decades since she first dazzled critics in 1949 as gold-digger Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
She finally broke free of that career-dominating role in 1964, when she starred as the matchmaker in “Hello, Dolly.
Her sparkling stage presence did not translate to the silver screen, but she did deliver one notable Hollywood performance in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the musical that also starred Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore.
Born in Seattle on January 31, 1921, Channing grew up an only child in San Francisco in a family of Christian Scientists.
After a short stint at Bennington College in Vermont she moved to New York in pursuit of stage stardom, dedicating her life to the craft.
In 1995 she received the Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, the top Broadway prize.
“Performing is the only excuse for my existence,” she told The New York Times in 1995. “What can be better than this?