Stage And Screen Legend Elaine Stritch Dies At 89

Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch, one of the most unforgettable and acerbically funny actors of the Broadway stage, as well as the big and small screen, died at her home in Birmingham, Mich., on Thursday. She was 89.

A brash and beautiful presence who infused audiences with laughter even into her late eighties, Stritch is perhaps best known to young audiences as Colleen Donaghy, the mother of Alec Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock. Since the early 1950s, the actress had been entertaining audiences on the New York stage, racking up four Tony nominations. She was such a titan of Broadway that in 2003, in the late prime of her career, the New York Landmarks Conservancy declared Stritch a “Living Landmark.” She also won three Emmy awards between 1993 and 2007.

On Broadway, she was best known for her performance as Joanne in the Stephen Sondheim-penned musical Company and for stealing the show in Noel Coward’s 1961 musical Sail Away – both shows that brought her Tony nominations. In 2002, she won a special Tony Award, a Drama Desk prize and an Emmy for Elaine Stritch at Liberty, her one-woman stage show. In 2010, she appeared opposite Bernadette Peters as Madame Armfeldt in a revival of A Little Night Music on Broadway, taking over a role that had been Angela Lansbury’s. It was Stritch’s final stage performance.

Among her most notable film work was 1957’s A Farewell to Arms, Three Violent People, The Perfect Furlough, Small Time Crooks and Monster-in-Law. Most recently, she voiced Grandma in the animated comedy ParaNorman. Stritch also made notable appearances on 3rd Rock From the Sun, The Cosby Show and Law and Order.

The actress had battled diabetes and alcoholism for several decades. Last year, she moved from her Upper East Side apartment to Birmingham to be closer with her family after she broke her hip and pelvis. A funny and poignant documentary about the actor, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, was released to critical raves earlier this year. It is now available on DVD for anyone interested in knowing more about the hilarious, iconoclastic performer.

R.I.P. Elaine Stritch, you will be missed.