Barbara Cook, the legendary Broadway star, died on August 8, 2017. This interview was recorded in her apartment on the upper West Side of Manhattan on June 21st, 2016 on publication of her memoir, Then & Now. Hosted by Richard Wolinsky.
Barbara Cook came to New York from Atlanta in the early 1950s and was the young ingenue in the musicals Flahooley and Plain & Fancy. Her first major role was as Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. She made her greatest mark as the original Marian the Librarian opposite Robert Preston in the hit show, The Music Man, and followed it up as Amalia in the original production of She Loves Me, currently in a hit revival on Broadway. Along the way, she performed in several New York revivals, including The King and I, Show Boat and Carousel.
After a rough few years in which she battled weight issues and alcoholism, she emerged in the mid-1970s as one of America’s greatest interpreters of the American musical canon, with performances in cabaret venues, at the Met, and at Carnegie Hall. She also was featured on the Sondheim Follies in Concert albumin 1985, which has become a must-own for collectors of musical theatre recordings.
In 2010, she returned to Broadway in Sondheim by Sondheim, and received the Kennedy Center honors in 2011. She continued to perform into the fall of 2016, at the age of 88.