Broadway actress Elaine Stritch dead at 89

Posted at 3:24 PM, Jul 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-17 17:53:40-04

Robert Osborne and Elaine Stritch

Actress Elaine Stritch, known for her brash persona, gravelly voice and versatility over seven decades on Broadway, died Thursday, longtime friend Julie Keyes told CNN. She was 89.

Stritch died at her Birmingham, Michigan, home early Thursday, surrounded by family, Keyes said.

Funeral arrangements have not been made, but Stritch will be buried next to her husband, John Bay, in Chicago next week, Keyes said.

The marquees of Broadway theaters will be dimmed for one minute in Stritch’s memory at 7:45 p.m. Friday, the Broadway League said.

“Elaine Stritch’s big personality was matched by her big talent,” Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin said. “Collaborating with some of Broadway’s greatest playwrights and composers throughout her lengthy career, her signature numbers and singular style created a memorable legacy.”

New York City named Stritch one of its Living Landmarks in 2003.

Just 17 when she moved to New York to study acting, Stritch made her Broadway debut in 1946.

She was nominated for five Tony Awards and eight primetime Emmys over her long career. She did not win a Tony until her autobiographical one-woman show — “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” — won the 2002 special theatrical event Tony.

Her 2002 performance also won an Emmy after it was made into an HBO show. Stritch was awarded two other acting Emmys, including one for a guest star role on “Law & Order” and one for playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on “30 Rock.”

Stritch was born in Detroit in 1925 but moved to New York City to study acting when she was 17.

Her Broadway debut came in “Loco,” a comedy that ran for just a month in October 1946. Her first musical role on Broadway came a year later in “Angel in the Wings.”

“The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” became her signature song when she sang it on Broadway in 1971. The performance earned her a Tony actress nomination.

Her other Tony nominations came from “Bus Stop” in 1956 and “Sail Away” in 1962.