I can't believe I'm saying this, but Elaine Stritch has passed away. She has been such an inspiration to me over the years, and I honestly thought she'd live forever with her brassy attitude. I just watched Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, where she talks about "going home" and leaving a picture for the world. Well, that's an indelible image, and I will go on loving her forever! Rest in peace, Stritchy. You were so loved and adored. I will miss you terribly. Here's a New York Times article about her life and career in the arts:
Elaine Stritch, Broadway’s Enduring Dame, Dies at 89
Elaine Stritch, the brassy, tart-tongued Broadway actress and singer who became a living emblem of show business durability and perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s wryly acrid musings on aging, died on Thursday 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 to be near her family, she lived for many years at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.
Ms. Stritch’s career began in the 1940s and spanned almost 70 years. She made 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 had 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. 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.
In April 2013, before she left the Carlyle, where she had often performed in its cabaret lounge, Café Carlyle, she gave one last show: “Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin’ Over and Out.” A documentary film, “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” was released this year.
Plain-spoken, 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, after learning she had diabetes, though she returned to alcohol in her 80s — Ms. Stritch might be the only actor ever to work as a bartender after starring on Broadway, and she was completely unabashed about her good-time-girl attitude.
“I’m not a bit opposed to your mentioning in this article that Frieda Fun here has had a reputation in the theater, for the past five or six years, for drinking,” she said to a reporter for The New York Times in 1968. “I drink, and I love to drink, and it’s part of my life.”
In an interview this year in The New York Times Magazine, she said of her resumption of drinking: “I’m almost 89, I’m gonna have a drink a day or two. I know how to handle it, so there.”
Most of the time she was equally unabashed onstage, rarely if ever leaving the sensually astringent elements of her personality behind when she performed. A highlight of her early stage career was the 1952 revival of “Pal Joey,” the Rodgers and Hart-John O’Hara musical, in which she played a shrewd, ambitious reporter recalling, in song, an interview with Gypsy Rose Lee; she drew bravas for her rendition of the striptease parody “Zip.”
Photo Ms. Stritch last September at the condo in Birmingham, Mich., that she moved into when she left New York. Credit Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times In a nonsinging role in William Inge’s 1955 drama, ”Bus Stop,” she received a Tony nomination as the lonely but tough-talking owner of a Kansas roadside diner where a group of travelers takes refuge during a snowstorm. Three years later, in her first starring role on Broadway, “Goldilocks,” a musical comedy by Jean and Walter Kerr and the composer Leroy Anderson, she played a silent film star alongside Don Ameche and impressed The Times’s critic Brooks Atkinson.
“Miss Stritch can destroy life throughout the country with the twist she gives to the dialogue,” he wrote. “She takes a wicked stance, purses her mouth thoughtfully and waits long enough to devastate the landscape.”
Noël Coward, one of Ms. Stritch’s fans, built the 1961 musical “Sail Away” around her role as Mimi Paragon, the effervescent hostess of a cruise ship, and she repaid his trust not only by giving what Howard Taubman of The Times said “must be the performance of her career” (including a delicious rendition of Coward’s hilariously snooty “Why Do the Wrong People Travel?”) but also by successfully ad-libbing, on opening night, when a poodle in the cast betrayed its training onstage.
The show was not a hit, but Ms. Stritch came away with her third Tony nomination. Her next Broadway role was in the replacement cast of Edward Albee’s scabrous portrait of a marriage, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” as Martha, the bitter, boozy wife.
One of her memorable appearances was in the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company”(1970), in which, as a cynical society woman, she saluted her peers with the vodka-soaked anthem “The Ladies Who Lunch.” The performance brought her another Tony nomination, and the tune became her signature — at least until, in her 70s, she became known for Sondheim’s paean to showbiz longevity and survival, “I’m Still Here.”
Photo Ms. Stritch in the musical revue “Angel in the Wings,” in 1948, in which she sang “Civilization.” Credit Associated Press That song was the centerpiece of her 2001 one-woman show, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” and she sang it in 2010 at Mr. Sondheim’s 80th-birthday concert at Lincoln Center and at the White House for President Obama.
Essentially a spoken-and-sung theater memoir, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” created with the New Yorker critic John Lahr, began performances at the Public Theater in Manhattan when Ms. Stritch was 76 and then moved to Broadway, where it was a smash.
Alone onstage except for a chair, clad only in tights and a white silk shirt, Ms. Stritch wove together music (including “Zip,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “I’m Still Here” and two more Sondheim songs: “The Little Things You Do Together,” a mordant salute to marriage from “Company,” and the aging showgirl’s lament “Broadway Baby,” from “Follies”) and showbiz memories into a tour de force that won a Tony Award for best special theatrical event.
“I’m a do-it-yourself kind of broad,” Ms. Stritch told The Guardian in 2008, when she performed the show in London. It was an apt description of herself and the performance, which opened with her entering and declaring to the audience, “Well, as the prostitute once said, ‘It’s not the work, it’s the stairs.’ ”
Born in Detroit on Feb. 2, 1925, Ms. Stritch was the youngest of three daughters of George and Mildred Stritch. She went to a convent school but knew long before she graduated that she wanted a show business career.
Photo Ms. Stritch backstage with Noël Coward in 1961 after the opening of his musical “Sail Away.” Credit John Lent/Associated Press When she was 4, for example, her father, an executive at B. F. Goodrich, took her to see a touring production of “The Ziegfeld Follies.” They went backstage to meet the star, the comedian Bobby Clark, who was a friend of her father’s. “From that moment on,” she recalled, “I was hooked.”
She was popular and seemingly carefree at school but struggled, she said, to overcome a deep-seated lack of confidence. By high school she had discovered that liquor helped mask her fears.
After graduation she told her parents she wanted to go to New York to study acting. They said she could go only if she agreed to live in a Manhattan convent. In 1944, she took the train to New York, moved into her convent room on the East Side and enrolled at the New School for Social Research, where she studied acting with Erwin Piscator. According to a story she told in “At Liberty,” her classmate Marlon Brando stopped speaking to her after she declined his invitation to spend the night at his apartment.
(Ms. Stritch, a Roman Catholic who said she was a virgin until she was 30, was no prude. Before she married in 1972, she was romantically linked with the actors Gig Young and Ben Gazzara and the restaurateur Joe Allen.)
She made her New York stage debut in a children’s play, “Bobino.” In 1947, she opened on Broadway in a musical revue, “Angel in the Wings,” in which she sang “Civilization,” a satirical number expressing an African’s thoughts about frightful aspects of modern life, including the lament: “Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo.”
Photo Ms. Stritch in 2010 in her role as the mother of Alec Baldwin’s character on “30 Rock.” Credit Ali Goldstein/NBC In a short time she established herself as a promising actress who could also hurl a song lyric to the far reaches of the balcony. In 1950 she won the job of understudy to Ethel Merman in “Call Me Madam.” Merman stayed healthy, and Ms. Stritch never got to perform the role on Broadway, although she did star in the touring company. Then came “Pal Joey.”
She did some television work as well, live dramas as well as series like “My Sister Eileen” and “Wagon Train.” She almost landed the role of Trixie Norton on “The Honeymooners,” with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows, but the part finally went to Joyce Randolph. Gleason, she explained, thought she was too much like him.
Recent Comments Bruce 15 hours ago Kind of a shame that some reports of Ms. Stritch's death refer to her (in the headline) as a star of "30 Rock." Of course, this is not...
CitizenReno 15 hours ago I don't condone this death one bit, dogdamnit.You move to the suburbs and you're gone?When we went to lunch, before she was diagnosed with...
Wish I could Tell You 15 hours ago I'm not only noting her passing to what i assume and hope is a really great party, but mourning the passing of a New York that doesn't make...
Ms. Stritch made her London stage debut in “Sail Away” in 1962, and appeared there again in 1972 in “Company.” Remaining in London, she met the American actor John Bay during rehearsals for a production of Tennessee Williams’s “Small Craft Warnings” and married him. In Britain, she won a wide following in stagings of American plays and as co-star of the television comedy series “Two’s Company,” in which she played a prickly American writer working at an English estate.
Ms. Stritch and her husband moved back to the United States in 1982, and he shortly died of a brain tumor. They had no children. Ms. Stritch is to be buried near him in Chicago. She is survived by many nieces and nephews.
In the mid-1980s, Woody Allen, dissatisfied with his film “September,” decided to reshoot it. Ms. Stritch accepted the part originally played by Maureen O’Sullivan while recuperating from surgery to have polyps removed from her vocal cords. She played the hard-drinking survivor of a roller-coaster life, a former glamour girl whose daughter, played by Mia Farrow, is both angry and depressed. Her performance initiated a fecund period of movie work.
Photo Ms. Stritch, tending bar in the summer of 1964 at Elaine’s (no relation), after she had become a Broadway star. Credit United Press International Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Her other films included “Cocoon: The Return” (1988), which reunited her with Ameche; “Cadillac Man” (1990), with Robin Williams; “Autumn in New York” (2000), a May-December romance starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder; and “Monster-in-Law” (2005), in which, as Jane Fonda’s mother-in-law, she delivers a blistering put-down: “You were a television weather woman from Dubuque, Mont. You drove around in a broken-down minivan, and you drank red wine — from a box!”
She also made guest appearances on television, on “The Cosby Show,” “Head of the Class,” “Law & Order,” “Oz” and “3rd Rock from the Sun.” Back on Broadway, she joined Harold Prince’s 1994 revival of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical “Show Boat.” Ms. Stritch played Parthy, the nagging wife of the showboat’s Cap’n Andy.
She went on to earn another Tony nomination in the Lincoln Center Theater’s 1996 revival of “A Delicate Balance,” Edward Albee’s ferocious dark comedy about an upper-class household in distress. She played the witty, bellicose houseguest of her sister (Rosemary Harris) and brother-in-law (George Grizzard).
When “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” was broadcast on HBO in 2004, Ms. Stritch added an Emmy to her collection of awards, but that was far from her final triumph. She also created a series of solo cabaret shows for Café Carlyle, including one that was a tribute to Sondheim.
“The blazingly here-and-now Ms. Stritch gives the word ‘trouper,’ a term of respect for stars who have trod the boards for decades, an almost mythological dimension,” Stephen Holden of The Times wrote in a review.
In May 2008, in a surprising change of pace, she appeared in a production of “Endgame,” Samuel Beckett’s grim comedy about mortality, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As inhabitants of a bleak netherworld, she and her onstage husband (Alvin Epstein) lived in oversize garbage cans.
Ms. Stritch performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., in June 2009 in a production of “The Full Monty,” based on the 1997 British film comedy about a group of unemployed steelworkers who decide to perform as male strippers. Ms. Stritch, who played the group’s rehearsal pianist, said in an interview that she was “happy to be doing something that wasn’t all about me.”
She made her final Broadway appearance in 2010, replacing Angela Lansbury as the aging Madame Armfeldt in a Broadway revival of “A Little Night Music.” It was a role that allowed her to sing once more of Mr. Sondheim’s rueful, mortality-defying musical meditations, “Liaisons,” an aching paean to love affairs past, and she brought to it an original and rather stinging bitterness about a life that is nearly over.
In “At Liberty,” Ms. Stritch earned one of her biggest laughs with a story about a long night of drinking with a friend. The story was ostensibly about the friend — Judy Garland — but it was self-reflective, too. Along about breakfast time, Ms. Stritch recalled, Garland turned to her.
“Elaine, I never thought I’d say this,” Garland said, “but good night.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors. To say he was a great actor is an understatement. He was amazing. He was also human, and struggled with and was taken down by the demon of addiction. He was found in his apartment today with a needle dangling from his arm.
I don't know what to say. I really don't. Except he was not alone in his addiction or his struggle. The problem with addiction is that in the end, you do feel absolutely and disparagingly alone. I wonder what he was thinking as he pushed for the last time. I just hope and pray that the heroin took away that last bit of pain. I hope it was peaceful.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman. You were loved, and it will be impossible to forget you.
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
Graciela Martinez, a normal, healthy girl, was found dead from heat stroke in her brother's BMW on Wednesday after a lock malfunctioned. Everybody's just taking this at face value, but seriously? How does a girl get left for dead in her brother's car? Doesn't anyone miss her at the dinner table? And then think to look in the cars, or get in one to go looking for her? This is craziness. Something seems fishy. Here's the article with a video:
A 14-year-old girl was found dead inside a car that investigators said she couldn't exit.
This is definitely weird. Tell me what you think in the comments.
My friend Andy posted a link to this obituary (to follow) which appeared earlier this evening on Gawker. Having grown up with a wonderful mother and grandmother, I can't say I relate to it much, but I can appreciate the lack of sentiment for a woman who must have been pure hell to live with. This obituary says so much in three short paragraphs. Take a look:
Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.
Thank God I don't live a life that would warrant an obituary like this. As awful as she was to her kids, imagine what she must've felt like inside to be able to treat human beings as objects of torture. I believe she deserves to pay for her crimes, but I also hope she gets to feel love as well. It doesn't seem as though she ever felt it on earth.
UPDATE 09/12/13: The back story behind this scathing obituary came to light on the Huffington Post website yesterday afternoon. Apparently Marianne Reddick was either the foster or adoptive mother of these 8 children, 6 of whom are still alive. According to the story, the children's case was taken to court and resulted in legislation allowing children of abusive parents to terminate their parental rights. These kids aren't martyrs, they actually took action, and I admire them.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.