Elaine Stritch Dies at 89 was Veteran Broadway Actress and Singer


Published on: Jul 18, 2014

Broadway Loses a Great and Much Loved Star


Elaine died at home in Birmingham Michigan, following a period of poor health. Before moving to Michigan last year, she had lived for years at New York’s luxury Carlyle Hotel. Broadway announced it would dim its lights for one minute at 7:45 pm on Friday in honor of the legend, who was nominated for four Tony Awards and won three Emmys.

Elaine Stritch (February 2, 1925 – July 17, 2014)

Stritch best known for her work on Broadway. She appeared in numerous stage plays and musicals, feature films, and many television programs. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995.

Stritch made her professional stage debut in 1944 and her Broadway debut in the comedy Loco in 1946. Notable Broadway credits include her Tony Award nominated roles in the original production of William Inge’s 1955 play Bus Stop, and musicals by Noel Coward (Sail Away, 1961) and Stephen Sondheim (Company, 1970), the latter includes her performance of the song “The Ladies Who Lunch”, plus the 1996 revival of the Edward Albee play A Delicate Balance and her 2001 Tony Award winning one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

In the 1970s, she relocated to London, starring in several West End productions, including Tennessee WilliamsSmall Craft Warnings in 1973 and the Neil Simon play The Gingerbread Lady in 1974. She also starred with Donald Sinden in the ITV sitcom Two’s Company, which ran from 1975 to 1979 and earned her a BAFTA TV Award nomination.

She won an Emmy Award in 1993 for her guest role on Law & Order and another in 2004 for the television documentary of her one woman show. From 2007 to 2012, she had a recurring role as Jack Donaghy’s mother, Colleen, on NBC’s 30 Rock, a role that won her a third Emmy in 2008

Her husband from 1973 to 1982 was the actor John Bay. He was part of the family that owns the Bay’s English Muffins company, and Stritch sent English muffins as gifts to friends. Said John Kenley: “Every Christmas, she still sends me English muffins.”When she was based in London, Stritch and her husband lived at the Savoy Hotel.

She was good friends with gossip columnist Liz Smith, with whom she shared a birthday (February 2). In March 2013, Stritch announced she was leaving New York and relocating to Birmingham, Michigan.

Stritch was candid about her struggles with alcohol. She took her first drink at 13 and began using it as a crutch before performances to vanquish her stage fright and insecurities. Her drinking worsened after Bay’s death, and she sought help after experiencing issues with effects of alcoholism, as well as the onset of diabetes. Elaine Stritch at Liberty discusses the topic at length.


Tony Nominations

Stritch has been nominated for the Tony Award five times.

  • Best Featured Actress in a Play for Bus Stop, 1956
  • Best Actress in a Musical for Sail Away, 1962
  • Best Actress in a Musical for Company, 1971
  • Best Actress in a Play for A Delicate Balance, 1996

In 2002, her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. In Elaine Stritch at Liberty she shared stories and songs from her life in theatre and observations on her experiences with alcoholism. The D. A. Pennebaker documentary of Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2004) combined rehearsal elements and her stage performance to win several Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Achievement in a Variety or Music Program.
Read More on Elaine’s Life and Work


Elaine Stritch interviewed by Michael Parkinson


Holding the Man on DVD Here