Elaine Stritch Has Died at the Age of 89
By Jerry Portwood
The legendary Elaine Stritch passed away Thursday, July 17, at the age of 89, according to The New York Times. She was at her home in Birmingham, Michigan (were she moved after famously leaving the Carlyle Hotel in New York City).
She was known to many younger audiences for her role as Alec Baldwin's mother in episodes of 30 Rock (which won her an Emmy), but her spanned decades, beginning in the 1940s. Stritch was in Noel Coward’s Sail Away (1961), and rose to prominence ripping apart “the ladies who lunch” in Sondheim’s Company (1970), but her career high may have been in the 2002 one-woman show Elaine Stritch At Liberty.
She also appeared in two Woody Allen movies, September (1987) and Small Time Crooks (2000), and her recent film credits included Monster In Law (2005), Autumn In New York (2000), Screwed (2000) and Out to Sea (1997).
She was working up to the end and always good for a laugh. When Michael Musto spoke to her earlier this year prior to the release of the documentary, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, he asked about performing in A Little Night Music four years ago. She had this to say:
I adored it. “Liaisons” was the most difficult song I’ve ever done on the stage. I couldn’t wrap my arms around it. You know what Steve Sondheim said to me, which I found brilliant? I called him the night before I opened and said, “I can’t get ahold of this song. What should I do to give it a punch? To get me stopping the show. I only get one and a half songs.” His advice was, “At the end of the song, burp.” And I loved it. That’s it! Thank you, God—or Steve Sondheim, whichever you prefer.
She also told Out that she'd be open to returning to the stage if she could manage. “If I think I can learn it, I may agree to do [Edward Albee’s] Three Tall Women,” she said. “I’m just the wildest broad in New York, and I don’t do anything wrong.”
When asked for a comment, Michael Musto responded:
"Away from her beloved show biz, Stritch was like a kid locked out a candy store, but she told me she still loved entertaining people on a one-by-one basis, which she did day and night. Throughout her fabled life, the woman was cantankerous, frisky, and not always easy to deal with, but she could electrify a room, and if she decided you were a deserving audience, you melted from the approbation. This, after all, was the star who gave the kind of fiery life to Noel Coward and Sondheim musicals that only a force of nature like her could accomplish. She put the 'broad' in Broadway in the best way."