Carol Channing Deserves The 2011 Kennedy Center Honor!

If I talk about something I either talk about it or I DO it... the minute I talk about it it's lost all it's drive and all it's fun.
Carol Channing

Hello, Kennedy Center Honors (and everyone else who reads this)!

Today, I want to write about a cause that's very dear to my heart. I desire to see Carol Channing receive the 2011 Kennedy Center Honor. For those who know Carol personally or either as a fan, this woman has earned this honor! At 90 years young, when most people would be resting on their laurels, (and trust me, Carol has some mighty fine laurels to rest upon!),she and husband Harry Kullijian are active in promoting arts education in California schools with the Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation.Established in 2005 with the hopes of bringing the importance of arts education to the general public, provide music instruments for underfunded public schools and scholarships for California State University students.
Carol and the Foundation started in California, but are really asking for a National return of arts education - hence the House Concurrent Resolution 275 (authored by Rep. Jackie Speier, passed by the house in July 2010 and then the Senate Dec 2010) which established a National Arts in Education Week (starts each year on the second Sunday of September, so this year 9/11-9/18).

Walking through Carol's home in Palm Springs, you see the world of the 20th century on her walls, Presidents, royalty, entertainers, and celebrities from all walks of life.
PLEASE GO TO WWW.RICHARDSKIPPER.COM and sign the petition for Carol to receive the 2011 Kennedy Center Honor!

Channing was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.
She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1995,and an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University, Stanislaus in 2004.That same year, she received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre.

The following is from The Kennedy Center website,
"Since its inception in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors has redefined America's perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists.
(Thank you, Paul Brogan, for this clip)

The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor--the quintessential reward for a lifetime's endeavor. At the same time, the annual addition of new names to the roster of Honors recipients charts the international standard of excellence set by America's artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.

The annual Honors gala is an evening without categories, without disappointments, and without competition.

And the Honors telecast, aired during the week between Christmas and New Year's, is a perennial Emmy nominee. It serves for millions of American arts lovers as the year's crowning event, paying tribute to our nation's preeminent artists with performances by the great stars of today who have followed in their footsteps.
(Legendary performer, Carol Channing meets and sings with Portsmouth, NH Mayor, Tom Ferrini, at city hall Wednesday. Channing performed at the Portsmouth Music Hallto benefit AIDS Response-Seacoast.
For more see, Thank you, Paul Brogan!)

The complete list of guest performers is kept secret until the show is in progress, keeping both the Honorees and the nation on the edge of their seats. "Our tradition of surprises and surprise guests is particularly special," says George Stevens, Jr., the show's longtime co-producer.
"[The fun of the show] is increased by not knowing what to expect; the evening becomes exciting for the Honorees, whose reactions and pleasure at the proceedings make the evening so much fun to watch."

"The Kennedy Center celebrates five individuals who have spent their lives enriching, inspiring and elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world," said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.

Why has Carol Channing been egregiously over looked year after year?
She absolutely has earned the right to this award!

She represents an aspect of SHOW business that, unfortunately, doesn't exist any more. Not only did she create two iconic characters that are so much a part of our Broadway heritage and legacy, Lorelei Lee and Dolly Levi (Is there any more iconic image than Dolly Levi descending the stairs at the Harmonia Gardens?), she did a total of 13 shows!

Carol believed that if you went out "among the communities around the country to entertain", that those people would return the favor when they came to New York. And they did! There has been a love affair between Carol and her audiences that exists to this day. When I talk with fans of Carol's, no matter what age group or demographic, and no matter the size of the venues in which they saw her entertain, I always hear over and over again, "When Carol sang "fill in the blank", she performed it directly to ME!" matter where they were sitting in the venue! That's the artistry and charm of Carol. She can touch an audience member like no other. She also always makes time for her fans.

Carol also had a work ethic that I very rarely see anymore. She NEVER missed a performance. She did over 5,000 performances of HELLO, DOLLY! Will we ever see that again. She talks about this in Dori Berenstein's documentary, "Carol Channing: Larger Than Life" She says she owes it to her fans to be there. They may have saved up months for this. They may have baby sitters lined up. They may have traveled a great distance to be there. The bottom line is it's not about Carol, it's about her fans! It always has been.

Carol Elaine Channing (born January 31, 1921)is the recipient of three Tony Awards (including one for lifetime achievement), a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Channing is best remembered for originating, on Broadway, the musical-comedy roles of bombshell Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and matchmaking widow Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!

Channing was born in Seattle, Washington, the only child of George and Adelaide (née Glaser; 1886-1984) Channing.
Her father was a city editor at the Seattle Star; his newspaper career took the family to San Francisco when Carol was only two weeks old. Her father later became a successful Christian Science practitioner, editor, and teacher. She attended Aptos Middle School and Lowell High School in San Francisco. At Lowell, Channing was a member of its famed Lowell Forensic Society, the nation's oldest high-school debate team.

"The Kennedy Center Honors continues to be an evening like no other and one of the most prestigious telecasts of the television year," said Leslie Moonves, President & Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation. "The intersection of Washington, New York and Hollywood for this event speaks to the importance of the performing arts to all of us. We’re proud of our longstanding partnership with the Kennedy Center and privileged each year to be part of a broadcast that honors those whose talents and achievements influence our arts, entertainment and culture in such a profound way."

Channing was introduced to the stage while working for her mother. In a 2005 interview with the Austin Chronicle, Channing recounted this experience:

"My mother said, 'Carol, would you like to help me distribute Christian Science Monitors backstage at the live theatres in San Francisco?' And I said, 'All right, I'll help you.' I don't know how old I was. I must have been little. We went through the stage door alley (for the Curran Theatre), and I couldn't get the stage door open. My mother came and opened it very well. Anyway, my mother went to put the Monitors where they were supposed to go for the actors and the crew and the musicians, and she left me alone. And I stood there and realized – I'll never forget it because it came over me so strongly – that this is a temple. This is a cathedral. It's a mosque. It's a mother church. This is for people who have gotten a glimpse of creation and all they do is recreate it. I stood there and wanted to kiss the floorboards."

Channing's first job on stage in New York was in Marc Blitzstein's No For an Answer, which was given two special Sunday performances starting January 5, 1941 at the Mecca Temple (later New York's City Center). She was 19 years old. Channing then moved to Broadway for Let's Face It!, in which she was an understudy for Eve Arden.
Decades later, Arden would play "Dolly" in a road company after Channing finally relinquished the role. Five years later, Channing had a featured role in a revue, Lend an Ear. She was spotted by author Anita Loos and cast in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelei Lee, the role that brought her to prominence. (Her signature song from the production was Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend.) In 1961, Channing became one of a very few Tony Award nominees to gain a nomination for work in a revue (rather than a traditional book musical), when she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, for the short-lived revue Show Girl.

Channing came to national prominence as the star of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! She never missed a performance during her run, attributing her good health to her Christian Science faith. Her performance won her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, in a year when her chief competition was Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. She was deeply disappointed when Streisand, who many believed to be far too young for the role, was signed to play Dolly Levi in the film, which also starred Walter Matthau and Michael Crawford.

Channing reprised the role of Lorelei Lee in the musical Lorelei.

She also appeared in two New York revivals of Hello, Dolly!, and toured with it extensively throughout the United States. She also appeared in a number of movies, The First Traveling Sales Lady (1956) with Ginger Rogers, the cult film Skidoo and Thoroughly Modern Millie, opposite Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore. For Millie she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.

(Carol Channing reacts to Gov. John Lynch proclaiming a day in her name Thursday night at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. With the governor is his wife, Susan.
(EJ Hersom/Staff Photographer) April 4, 2008)

When AIDS first came to the nation's attention during a tour of Hello Dolly! all Carol Channing knew was that her "Dolly boys" were getting sick.

She remembers when it was all beginning, they would come into her dressing room and everyone would just hold each other and cry.

There was no information then about what was referred to as a "gay cancer," no magazines and no support groups. It wasn't until 1985 that the autoimmune disease was even given a name.

Today, only one of her original Dolly boys who danced with her in the mid-1960s is alive.

"When AIDS had seen its 25th year of recognition, I was both devastated that we were still so far away from a cure and honored to be asked to perform "Before the Parade Passes By" (the words are actually quite appropriate) in memory of those who had passed at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences TV Cares event," Channing said.
"They don't make them like that anymore. What a wonderful opportunity to see a legend still at the top of her game," Paul Brogan, author of "Was That A Name I Dropped?", said. "It is one thing to send out a solicitation letter and say please bring us money ... it is another to say spend some money, but in return giving you a chance to spend an hour and forty-five minutes with a legend. It is wonderful stories, imitations, and talking about the things that have happened in her life."

Channing may be best known for her legendary portrayal of Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! She never missed a performance of Dolly, and has played the role over 5,000 times.

Every Thursday performance of Dolly went to AIDS organizations, something Channing has always been very proud of, her publicist, Harlan Boll said.

A recipient of the 1995 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, Channing has been a star of international acclaim since a Time magazine cover story hailed her performance as Lorelei Lee in Gentleman Prefer Blondes writing: "Perhaps once in a decade a nova explodes above the Great White Way with enough brilliance to reillumine the whole gaudy legend of show business."

"There is no high like achievement," Channing said, a message she shares with high schoolers throughout California. Channing and husband Harry Kullijan started a foundation focused on raising the arts as a priority in education throughout California.

"The arts make your brain more active when you are little," Channing said.
((Courtesy photo

Tommy Tune refers to Carol Channing as his theatrical "fairy godmother."
Carol: Did you know that I gave my son - well, he's known as my son - I gave my spiritual son one of his Tony Awards. They hooked up the New York Tony Awards with a show he was doing in Seattle. Which show?
Tommy: It was 'Bye Bye Birdie."
Greg: How many Tonys do you have?
Tommy: I've got nine.
Carol: I've got four and a lifetime achievement. I'm very happy about that.
Tommy: And every one of them was very deserving.
Greg: When you won for "Hello Dolly," was that one of the greatest nights for you?
Carol: When you're up for an award, you get a case of the willies. It won for best sets and best orchestration and now they're not gonna give it to me at the end? You get very nervous about it. You can't lose or else it will look like everyone else won for the show in spite of me. But I could have lost it because Barbra Streisand was up at the same time."
Greg: But you beat her!
Carol: We don't mention that whenever she's anywhere near.

Greg: Tommy, what are your feelings about being honored tonight?
Tommy: It's a great honor, it's thrilling. The people who have won it before, Carol being one of them, are great people. Julie Harris herself, Liza Minnelli, Gwen Verdon, Jerry Herman. Greats. Theater greats. I'm very proud to be following in their footsteps.
Greg: What keeps you going after all these years?
Tommy: I work out all the time and I do yoga and I take dance class and I have ideas and I have shows. I got shows I gotta do!
Greg: Will you be back on Broadway soon?
Tommy: I'm directing a new show called "Turn of the Century" and I hope it will be back on Broadway very soon. We're trying it out in Chicago in September.

Greg: How about you, Miss Channing. Will you be on stage telling stories and singing songs anytime soon?
Carol: I'm doing it all the time, three shows a week, for the universities. But that isn't important today. I never forget my son and I'm very honored to be here. He's got NINE Tony Awards! I've seen them, he's got them all lined up.
Greg to Tommy: Where do you put all those Tonys?
Tommy: I just moved and I have a mantle in the new place and they link up just exactly right. It just fills it. I can't win any more otherwise I'd have to move! But I could move.
Carol: I'm SO proud if him.
(Thank you, Tommy, for the support you showed us today on Trish Causey's MUSICAL THEATRE TALK)

Channing recounts how many times she failed before landing a role.

"I found out every time I failed it is because I didn't love the character I was doing enough. For instance, I used to do Marlena Dietrich. I adored her; nobody could have appreciated her artistry more," Channing said. "To an American audience it was very funny and George Burns helped me with it. I adored her so, she becomes the start of my show."

I also receieved the following e-mail, "I would like to add my two cents worth to your worthy campaign to secure the Kennedy Center Honors for Carol Channing.

I had the good fortune to bring Carol and Harry to New Hampshire - twice. In 2007 and again in 2008, to star in two AIDS Fundraising events. They helped raise thousands and thousands of dollars for those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS. They were tireless in their efforts - meeting and talking with clients and community leaders, urging those leaders to support the efforts of those fighting the cause.

They were and are inspiring as well as to be greatly admired for their ongoing efforts to keep arts in the schools.

The world is a better place thanks to Carol and I'd be happy to do whatever I can.

Most Sincerely,

Paul E. Brogan
Concord, NH"

In 1966, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. During her film career she also made some guest appearances on television sitcoms and talk shows, including CBS's "What's My Line?," on which she appeared in eleven episodes from 1962 to 1966. Channing also did a fair amount of voice over work in cartoons, most notably as Grandmama in an animated version of The Addams Family which ran from 1992 to 1995.

In 1984, Carol had appeared on "Sesame Street" and sang a parody of the song "Hello, Dolly! called "Hello, Sammy!", a love song being sung by Carol to a character known as Sammy the Snake (as voiced by Jim Henson). Carol, in this parody segment, serenades Sammy telling him just how much she loves and adores him while Sammy coils himself around Carol's arms. This song includes lyrics such as "So..turn on your charm, Sammy/Coil yourself around my arm, Sammy/Sammy the Snake, I'll stake a claim on you"

On May 10, 2003, she married Harry Kullijian, her fourth husband and junior high school sweetheart, who reunited with her after she mentioned him fondly in her memoir. The two performed at their old junior high school, which had become Aptos Middle School, in a benefit for the school.

At Lowell High School, they renamed the school's auditorium "The Carol Channing Theatre" in her honor. The city of San Francisco, California, proclaimed February 25, 2002, to be Carol Channing Day, for her advocacy of gay rights and her appearance as the celebrity host of the Gay Pride Day festivities in Hollywood.

Theater credits

No For an Answer (January 5 and January 11, 1941)
Let's Face It! (October 29, 1941 – March 20, 1943) (understudy for Eve Arden)
Proof Through the Night (December 25, 1942 – January 2, 1943)
Lend an Ear (December 16, 1948 – January 21, 1950)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (December 8, 1949 – September 15, 1951)
Wonderful Town (February 25, 1953 – July 3, 1954) (replacement for Rosalind Russell)
The Vamp (November 10 - December 31, 1955) (Best Actress in a Musical nominee)
Show Girl (January 12 - April 8, 1961) (Best Actress in a Musical nominee)
Hello, Dolly! (January 16, 1964 – December 27, 1970) (left show in 1967)
Four on a Garden (January 30 - March 20, 1971)
Lorelei (January 27 - November 3, 1974) (Best Actress in a Musical nominee)
Julie's Friends at the Palace (May 19, 1974) (benefit performance)
Hello, Dolly! (March 15 - July 19, 1978) (revival)
Legends (January 7, 1986 – January 18, 1987) (national tour)
Hello, Dolly! (October 19, 1995 – January 28, 1996) (revival; farewell tour)


Paid in Full (1950)
The First Traveling Saleslady (1956)
The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford (NBC, December 4, 1958)
All About People (1967) (short subject) (narrator)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Skidoo (1968)
Shinbone Alley (1971) (voice)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) (Cameo)
The Love Boat (1981)
Parade of Stars (1983)
Magnum, P.I. (1983)
Alice in Wonderland (1985)
Sesame Street (1988)
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989) (voice)
Where's Waldo? (1991) (voice)
The Addams Family (1992) (voice)
2 Stupid Dogs (1993) (voice)
Happily Ever After (1993) (voice)
The Nanny (1993)
Thumbelina (1994) (voice)
Burke's Law (1994)
The Magic School Bus (1994 - Episode "In the Haunted House") (voice)
Space Ghost Coast to Coast: 'Girlie Show' (1995)
Homo Heights (1998)
The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (1998) (voice) (direct-to-video)
Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2003) (documentary)
Family Guy: 'Patriot Games' (2006)
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List: 'Kathy Is a Star...Kind Of' (2009) (guest appearance


Original Cast Albums

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Columbia Records, 1950.
Show Girl, 1961
Hello, Dolly, RCA Records, 1964
Lorelei, Decca Records, 1974.

Additional albums

Archy & Mehitabel (with Eddie Bracken, Columbia Records, 1950's
Carol Channing, Vanguard Records, 1961
Carol Channing Reads Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Caedmon Records, 1962
Carol Channing Entertains, Command Records, 1965
Carol Channing Reads Madeleine, Caedmon Records, 1970's
C and W (with Webb Pierce), Plantation Records, 1976
Carol Channing and Her Country Friends (guest appearances by Jimmy C. Newman, Hank Locklin, and others), Plantation Records, 1977
Carol Channing on Tour, 51 West Records, 1980
Jazz Baby, DRG Records. 1994
For Heaven's Sake, New Day Records, 2010

Awards and Nominations
Year Awards Award Outcome
1956 Tony Awards Best Actress, Musical, The Vamp Nominated
1961 Tony Awards Best Actress, Musical, Show Girl Nominated
1964 Tony Awards Best Actress, Musical, Hello, Dolly Won
1967 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress, Thoroughly Modern Millie Nominated
Golden Globes Best Supporting Actress, Thoroughly Modern Millie Won
1968 Tony Awards Special Award Won
1974 Tony Awards Best Actress, Musical, Lorelei Nominated
1995 Tony Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2002 Grammy Awards Grammy Hall of Fame, Hello, Dolly original cast album Won

Thank you, Harlan Boll, for the pictures with the Presidents.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. Every five days, I'm going to answer a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to Next question will be answered Tomorrow! Tune in to see what Joanna Morton Gary wants to know!

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


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Tomorrow's blog will be BROADWAY LIVE AT FEINSTEIN'S!


Help us get Carol Channing the 2011 Kennedy Center Honor!
Contact me for details!

Richard Skipper,


  1. Oscar winner Carol is a Kennedy center Honor!! She is a Cole Porter lyric & a Noel Coward play in a time of cowards. In my day there was Merman Channing Martin Baily Rivera now there are various women who look like the faces on Clairol hair color boxes....have no idea who the poor dears are
    oh there's Angela & Barbara Cook
    but these other wannabe Broadway divas....well they try....I did teach & direct Faith Prince talented

  2. I usually don't do this, but I'm signing this because ms. channing, came in to tower video when I was in "the matchmaker" and I told her I was playing barnaby and we were having struggles in the show and she blessed our show and it turned out great. she deserves the honor! C. Stephen Foster Actor/writer

  3. I can think of no other Broadway star who deserves the honor more than Carol Channing. That she hasn't been a recipient yet is a travesty. There are many great performers on Broadway but when you get right down to it, Carol Channing IS Broadway!!!

  4. Bravo Richard for spearheading this effort to honor a lady who both on and off the stage set's an example that we all could emulate. For 70 years she has brought joy to millions in virtually every medium. On a personal level I know of her tireless efforts to help those infected and affected with HIV/AIDS and have tremendous respect for the work she and her husband Harry are doing to keep Arts in the schools so that new generations can experience what an enriching and rewarding compliment to an education or lifestyle, they can bring. I'll do whatever I can - you can count on me. Paul Brogan

  5. Very nice writeup. I just got her Jazz Baby compilation CD and was trying to figure out where and when the songs were actually recorded and found your 'blography'. You might have missed this video. Enjoy!


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