Elaine Stritch, the sharp and brassy Broadway star whose career spanned the stage, film and TV over eight decades, passed away today. The NY Times reports that she died "at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89. Her death was confirmed by a friend, Julie Keyes. Before Ms. Stritch moved to Birmingham last year, she lived, famously, for many years at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan."
Stritch, the NY Times notes, was "perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s wryly acrid musings on aging":
Ms. Stritch’s 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.
She's most known for her renditions of "Ladies Who Lunch" from Sondheim's Company as well as "I'm Still Here" from Follies, also by Sondheim:
In more recent years, a new audience recognized Stritch as Colleen Donaghy, the scary mother of Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy:
Stritch won an Emmy for her guest work on 30 Rock:
Earlier this year, she dropped the F-bomb during a Today show interview:
A documentary about Stritch, called Shoot Me was released earlier this year; as Tina Fey noted, "She's brassy...she's confident...she doesn't wear pants":
Theater Talk had her on for 26 minutes for her 88th birthday:
In a 2008 interview with Gothamist, Stritch told us about the other career she could envisioned for herself:
Yes, being uncontrollably wealthy. I think that would be a wonderful career. To wake up every morning and think, “What can I do with my money today to make somebody happy, including me.” I’d love that. I don’t know that I would but that’s the first thing that comes to mind: to be IN-DE-PEN-DENT-LY wealthy. So my self-esteem shoots up and I can take anything. So somebody can fuck you and I can say, “Thank you very much.”
Here's the full 2 hour and 25 minute video of her 2002 show, "Elaine Stritch At The Liberty," which earned her a special Tony: