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Carol Channing

Carol Channing (born January 31, 1921), is an actress whose career was largely built on two roles, that of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly, and that of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

She was born in Seattle, Washington. When she left home to attend Bennington College, her mother informed her that her father, a journalist whom she had believed was born in Rhode Island, was actually a light-complected African-American born in Augusta, Georgia who had passed for white, saying that the only reason she was telling her was so she wouldn't be surprised "if she had a black baby". She kept her heritage secret so she would not be typecast on Broadway and in Hollywood, ultimately revealing it only in her autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess, which was published in 2002, when she was more than 80 years old.

Her first Broadway play was Let's Face It, where she was an understudy for Eve Arden. She had a featured role in a review, Lend an Ear, where she was spotted by Anita Loos and cast in the role of Lorelei Lee, which was to bring her to prominence. Carol's persona and that of the character were strikingly alike: simultaneously smart yet scattered, na´ve but worldly.

She rarely missed a performance during her run in Hello, Dolly!: she attributes her health to her Christian Science faith. She was deeply disappointed when Barbra Streisand successfully campaigned to play the role of Dolly Levi in the film version.

She reprised the role of Lorelei Lee in the musical Lorelei, and appeared in two New York revivals of Hello, Dolly!.

She married four times. Her first husband, Theodore Naidish, was a writer; her second, was Alexander Carson, center for the Ottawa Rough Riders Canadian football team (they had one son, Chan, who is a cartoonist). In 1956 she married her manager and publicist Charles Lowe. They remained married for 42 years, but she filed for divorce in 1998, alleging they had had marital relations only twice in that timespan. He died before divorce was final. On May 10, 2003 she married Harry Kullijian, who had been her high school sweetheart.


Carol Channing has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6233 Hollywood Blvd.