5 Facts About Carol Channing, The ‘Hello, Dolly!’ Actress Who Died At Age 97

The much-beloved actress Carol Channing, who is perhaps best known for her star turn in “Hello, Dolly!” has died at 97. Channing died from natural causes overnight at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, US Weekly confirmed. She was two weeks away from her 98th birthday.

This larger-than-life Broadway legend was as remarkable off the stage as she was on it. Her acting career spanned an incredible seven decades. Fans and fellow stars are singing her praises and reminiscing about her illustrious career:

Here are five facts about the beloved Broadway star that you might not have known:

1. Her Parents Were Christian Scientists

Channing’s religious upbringing helped shape her life in many ways. She never drank or smoked. It also introduced her to the theater — she delivered copies of the Christian Science Monitor to theaters backstage.

2. Her First Big Break Was In ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

Channing’s breakthrough role came in 1949. She played the charming golddigger Lorelei Lee in the Broadway production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and sang the now-iconic song, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

carol channing photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

3. She Beat Out Barbra For Her First Tony Award

Channing won the coveted Tony Award for best actress for her role in “Hello, Dolly!” in 1964. The competition was steep that year; Barbra Streisand was also nominated for her role in “Funny Girl.” Later, Channing also earned a lifetime achievement Tony, in 1995.

4. She Was Married Four Times

She was married to her first husband, Theodore Naidish, from 1941 to 1944. Then, she wed Alexander Carson in 1953 and they divorced in 1956. Her longest marriage was to Charles Lowe, to whom she was married from 1956 until his death in 1999. And, her final marriage, to Harry Kullijian, lasted from 2003 to 2011, when he died.

carol channing photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

5. She Was Overlooked For The Film Remakes Of Her Iconic Roles

Though Channing was snubbed for Hollywood’s version of the musicals she helped put on the map, two other iconic blondes scored the roles. Marilyn Monroe played Lorelei in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and Streisand starred in the film production of “Hello, Dolly!” Though she did not have the opportunity to reprise her signature characters, she did have a long career on screen, playing roles in movies and lending her distinctive voice to animated television shows.