The Three Belters : Broadway Belters


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CAROL CHANNING - Biography Continued

Carol's spectacular rise to international fame began in 1950 when she landed the star role in "GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES". She had retreated from New York to California to be with her parents. As luck would have it though, Marge Champion was auditioning hopefuls for a new revue, "LEND AN EAR".Carol auditioned and, as she says, "I've never been out of work since."

"LEND AN EAR" made theatrical history when the show was transplanted from Hollywood to Broadway, and Miss Channing was well on her way to stardom.When Anita Loos, who wrote "GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES", saw Carol in the show, she said, "There is our Lorelie Lee."Brooks Atkinson, dean of American Theatre Critics, acclaimed the Channing characterization, "The most fabulous comic creation of this generation."Later Claudia Cassidy, of The Chicago Daily Tribune, was to hail Carol in "Wonderful Town" as a genius".

Miss Channing made her official nightclub debut July 8, 1957 at the fabulous Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. Variety, the bible of show business, headlined, Carol proves customers are a girl's best friend". In 1961, this one woman entertainment billed as "SHOW GIRL" was brought to Broadway, and again the critics tossed their adjectives in the air.

With Gracie Allen's blessing, Carol joined forces with George Burns, and the Burns-Channing Show made box-office history. Carol also starred at President Johnson's inaugural gala and has since made many appearances at the White House.

The late Lawrence Langner, founder and director of the Theatre Guild, insisted that Miss Channing was an ideal Shavian heroine and should star in "THE MILLIONAIRESS". Carol barnstormed the circuit and made the box offices jingle with the biggest grosses reported for a Shaw play ever.

After that, she went to Broadway with "HELLO, DOLLY!", then toured the country with the show, and directly into the film of Ross Hunter's "THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE" with Julie Andrews, in which she played the part of Mrs. Muzzy Van Hossmere. And under Joe Layton's astute musical staging, Carol received an Oscar nomination for her performance.

A television special she did with Pearl Bailey, not only was the talk of America, but was shown three times in England! In addition to her own specials, Carol won reviewers' raves for her performance in a Danny Thomas Special, and the nest of cuckoos on NBC-TV's "LAUGH-IN" made her an honorary cast regular because of the frequency of her visits.

Carol's record albums have been enormous sellers and she is the holder of several gold records.

Richard Skipper recently won his second MAC award for his dead-on impression of Carol Channing. This show has traveled to the stages of Carnegie Hall, Atlantic City, casinos in Canada, The Signature Theatre in Washington, DC, and the Plush Room in San Francisco to sold out engagements.

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