Carol Channing (1921-2019), in conversation with Richard Wolinsky, recorded during the tour of her memoir, “Just Lucky I Guess,” recorded on October 18, 2002. The great Broadway star Carol Channing died on January 15, 2019 at the age of 97. This iconic performer, along with starring in Hello Dolly for over 5000 performances, made her mark in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. appeared on the Broadway stage in thirteen other shows, and was also known for her TV appearances and for her role in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Strange looking – tall in heels, a waist that looked 15 inches wide and a head large enough to fit on Mount Rushmore, Carol Channing walked into the studio all in black, her shirt buttoned to the top. As the interview continued, she unbuttoned and you could see her performer’s aura, which was enhanced by the group of KPFA workers who congregated in the control room to watch her through the plate glass. It was extraordinary.
The best way to hear Carol Channing is unfettered by editing. This is the interview exactly as it took place on that day in 2002.
As I learned later, Carol wasn’t exactly truthful about her film performances. She did star in one other film, Otto Preminger’s Skidoo, a bizarre attempt to be hip which featured Jackie Gleason and Carol as a married couple who are forced onto a yacht owned by a gangster named God, played by Groucho Marx. The high point is Carol singing the title song while walking the deck, stoned on LSD. Check it out.
This podcast was originally posted as a Radio Wolinsky podcast on January 17, 2019.
1973 photo: Allan Warren, Creative Commons.