Stage legend Elaine Stritch dies at 89 and leaves behind a legacy

Farewell, Mrs. Stritch.

Elaine Stritch, 89, passed away on July 17 at her home in Birmingham, Michigan.

Recently, the actress was known for her role as Colleen Donaghy - mother to Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy - on 30 Rock, but the brassy star had been a fixture on Broadway long before she joined Alec and Tina Fey.

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Her Broadway debut was in a 1946 production of Loco and from there she appeared in the original production of William Inge’s Bus Stop in 1955 and Stephen Sondheim’s Company in 1970.

Said to be Stephen’s muse, Elaine developed a close relationship with the American composer.

Earlier this year, in an interview with Out magazine, the award-winning actress recounted a memory of working with Stephen on the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music:

“What should I do to give [the song “Liasons”] a punch? To get me stopping the show. I only get one and a half songs,” Elaine asked the legendary lyricist. Stephen's advice was, simply, “At the end of the song, burp,” she adds. “At the end of the song, I burped and they went crazy. I gave it a shot and I did it from then on.”

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Elaine had met Stephen at a party years before she starred in Company. On their first meeting, she told Playbill, "[Stephen] was interested in me - not in the boy and girl way… but he found me an interesting woman, and he stayed and said, 'I'll take you home.' And then he asked me to sing, and then I asked him to accompany me, and then we discovered that both of our favourite Rodgers and Hart love songs was 'He Was Too Good to Me," so I sang that with Steve. And as a result I put it in my show, the first cabaret I did at the Carlyle."

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Stephen's song "Ladies Who Lunch" from Company remains one of Elaine's most memorable performances to date.

Thanks to her razor-sharp wit and inimitable presence, Elaine’s career is packed with credits that are the stuff of dreams for aspiring actresses. She was Ethel Merman’s understudy in a 1950 Broadway production of Call Me Madam and had guest roles on television shows such as The Ellen Burstyn Show, The Cosby Show, Oz, Third Rock From the Sun, Law and Order and 30 Rock.

She even landed major parts on the silver screen in films like Woody Allen’s 1987 drama September, as well as supporting roles in Autumn in New York and Monster in Law.

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In her lifetime, Elaine received a Tony Award for her performance in Elaine Stritch at Liberty and three Emmys for her roles in Law and Order (1993), Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2004) and 30 Rock (2007).

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