Elaine Stritch, the loud, funny and frank star of Broadway and Hollywood, died at her home in Michigan yesterday. She was 89.
Stritch, known for her gravelly, gin-laced voice and impeccable comic timing, was born in 1925, attended finishing school and then studied drama at the New School in New York city.
She made her debut in New York theatre in 1944, receiving her first Broadway credit in 1948, and stayed there for decades. She was probably best known for her stage work, particularly in her candid one-woman memoir - Elaine Stritch: at Liberty - and in the Stephen Sondheim musical Company"
To modern comedy fans she was best known as the overbearing mother of Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock - a role that led to four Emmy nominations and one win.
And though she had TV and movie credits stretching back to 1948, the theatre was her home. There, she won four Tony awards and four Drama Desk awards.
As well as one-woman shows, Stritch starred in shows penned by Stephen Sondheim and Noel Coward, belting out songs such as The Ladies Who Lunch in Company.
Stritch's signature dress style was the "no pants" look - wearing a loose-fitting white shirt over sheer black tights,
In 2013, she retired to Michigan after 71 years in New York city - and made a series of farewell performances at the Carlyle Hotel in a show entitled Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin' Over and Out. She was a native of Detroit and moved just north of there, to Birmingham. Her latest project, a documentary film about herself, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, was shown in New York theatres in February.
In it, she said she suffered from diabetes, a broken hip and memory loss - all of which she nakedly and documented.
Her death brought tributes from figures in Broadway and entertainment.
Actor and writer Lena Dunham said on Twitter: "Here's to the lady who lunched: Elaine Stritch, we love you. May your heaven be a booze-soaked, no-pants solo show at the Carlyle."
Actor and singer Liza Minnelli said: "Elaine was a magnificent woman . . . a true trailblazer. Her talent and spunk will be greatly missed by so many of us."
Mia Farrow, who co-starred with Stritch in September, a film released in 1987, said: "I suspect Elaine Stritch won't know how to rest in peace. Iconic entertainer, force of nature, my wonderful movie-mom."
"I'm sure that even God is a bit nervous right now. I love you, Elaine," Alec Baldwin tweeted.
Charlotte St Martin - executive director of the Broadway League, the trade association for Broadway - said: "Elaine Stritch's big personality was matched by her big talent. Collaborating with some of Broadway's greatest playwrights and composers throughout her lengthy career, her signature numbers and singular style created a memorable legacy.
"She will always be remembered as an important part of Broadway."