Carol Channing, who was born on January 31, 1921, in Seattle, Washington, won a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for her performance as the eccentric widow Muzzy Van Hossmere in the musical romantic comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967).
The only child of The Seattle Star city editor George Channing and Adelaide (nee Glaser), Channing was 17 years old when she left home to attend Bennington College in Vermont. Channing’s mother told her for the first time that her father’s mother was African American and his father was German American. The mother didn’t want her to be surprised if ever she had a Black baby. Channing publicly revealed her African American ancestry in 2002.
She majored in drama at Bennington, revealing in a 1994 interview that she was always drawn to the stage, especially after seeing singer-actress Ethel Waters perform.
She became well-known after being the star of Hello, Dolly! (1964) where her performance as the life-loving widow Dolly Gallagher Levi made her win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
In the comedy western The First Traveling Saleslady (1956), Channing, who appeared as singer Molly Wade, gave future actor-filmmaker Clint Eastwood, as Lt. Rice, his first onscreen kiss.
She recorded the audiobook of her best-selling autobiography, “Just Lucky, I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts” in 2003. In 2012, the documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life was released.
A joke that Channing loved to talk about her health was that she had only been sick once in her life, when she was on a plane and inadvertently watched Barbra Streisand in the movie version of Hello, Dolly!
Channing continued to perform and make appearances well into her 90s. She died of natural causes in her home in Rancho Mirage, California on January 15, 2019, at the age of 97, just a few days before her 98th birthday.