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Legendary screen star Carol Channing dies aged 97

The 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' star passed away at her California home in the early hours of Tuesday (15 January), her publicist has confirmed.

By Will Stroude

Legendary screen star Carol Channing has died at the age of 97.

The three-time Tony and Golden Globe award-winning actress and singer passed away at her California home in the early hours of Tuesday (15 January), her publicist has confirmed.

“It is with extreme heartache, that I have to announce the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon – Miss Carol Channing. I admired her before I met her, and have loved her since the day she stepped … or fell rather … into my life,” Channing’s publicist B Harlan Boll told Broadway World.

“It is so very hard to see the final curtain lower on a woman who has been a daily part of my life for more than a third of it. We supported each other, cried with each other, argued with each other, but always ended up laughing with each other.

“Saying good-bye is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I know that when I feel those uncontrollable urges to laugh at everything and/or nothing at all, it will be because she is with me, tickling my funny bone.”

Born in Seattle, Washington in 1921, Channing found fame with roles in hit Broadway musicals Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949) and Hello, Dolly! (1964), for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

She also found success in Hollywood, most notably starring opposite Jule Andrews and Mary Tyler-Moore in classic 1967 musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which she received an Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

With her boiserous and outspoken persona, Channing has longbeen considered a gay icon.

“The gay community is responsible for so much of my success, and I love them”, she said in a 2010 interview with “It’s a mutual love affair, really.

“They make the better audiences too, because they laugh often and loudly. Applause is obligatory, but laughter is a reward, and gay audiences reward me often.

She added: “Years ago, I was made their Queen in San Francisco, which is so much better than legend or icon.

“I was told that on that day, there wasn’t a blonde wig to be found in stores. Isn’t that wonderful?”

More recently, Channing made a video appearance on the eighth season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she thanked eventual series winner Bob The Drag Queen on his impersonation of her during Snatch Game.