( b. Feb 02, 1925 Detroit, Michigan, USA - d. Jul 17, 2014 Birmingham, Michigan, USA ) Female
Elaine Stritch was a brassy, tart-tongued Broadway actress and singer who became a living emblem of show business durability and perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim's wryly acrid musings on aging. Her career began in the 1940s and included her fair share of appearances in movies, including Woody Allen's "September" (1987) and "Small Time Crooks" (2000), and on television; well into her 80s, she played a recurring role on the NBC comedy "30 Rock" as the domineering mother of the television executive played by Alec Baldwin. But the stage was her true professional home, where, whether in musicals, nonmusical dramas or solo cabaret shows, she drew audiences to her with her whiskey voice, her seen-it-all manner and the blunt charisma of a star.
Plainspoken, egalitarian, impatient with fools and foolishness, and admittedly fond of cigarettes, alcohol and late nights -- she finally gave up smoking and drinking in her 60s -- though she took it up again -- Ms. Stritch might be the only actor to work as a bartender after starring on Broadway, and she was completely unabashed about her good-time-girl attitude.
Most of the time she was equally unabashed onstage, rarely if ever leaving the sensually astringent elements of her personality behind when she performed. A highlight of her early stage career was the 1952 revival of Pal Joey, the Rodgers and Hart/John O'Hara musical, in which she played a shrewd, ambitious reporter recalling, in song, an interview with Gypsy Rose Lee; she drew bravas for her rendition of the striptease parody "Zip."
In a nonsinging role in William Inge's 1955 drama, Bus Stop, she received a Tony nomination as the lonely but tough-talking owner of a Kansas roadside diner where travelers take refuge during a snowstorm. Three years later, in her first starring role on Broadway, Goldilocks, she played a silent-film star and impressed The Times's critic Brooks Atkinson with the acid capability of her delivery.
Noël Coward, one of Ms. Stritch's devoted fans, built the 1961 musical Sail Away around her role as Mimi Paragon, the relentlessly effervescent hostess of a cruise ship. She repaid his trust not only by giving what Howard Taubman of The Times said "must be the performance of her career" (including a delicious rendition of Coward's hilariously snooty "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?") but also by successfully ad-libbing, on opening night, when a poodle in the cast betrayed its training onstage. The show was not a hit, but Ms. Stritch came away with her third Tony nomination. Her next Broadway role was in the replacement cast of Edward Albee's scabrous portrait of a marriage, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, as Martha, the bitter, boozy wife.
One of Ms. Stritch's most memorable appearances was in the Sondheim musical Company (1970), in which, as a cynical society woman, she saluted her peers with the vodka-soaked anthem "The Ladies Who Lunch." It not only brought her another Tony nomination but became her signature tune -- at least until, in her 70s, she became equally known for Sondheim's paean to showbiz longevity and survival, "I'm Still Here." It was the centerpiece of her 2001 one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, and she sang it in 2010 at Mr. Sondheim's 80th-birthday concert at Lincoln Center and at the White House for President Obama.
Essentially a spoken-and-sung theater memoir, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, created with the critic John Lahr of The New Yorker, began performances at the Public Theater in Manhattan (when Ms. Stritch was 76) and then moved to Broadway, where it was a smash. Alone onstage except for a single chair, clad only in tights and a white silk shirt, Ms. Stritch wove together music and showbiz memories into a nightly tour de force that won a Tony Award for the year's best special theatrical event.
Source: The New York Times obituary