Doug Pizac/Associated Press
Carol Channing, who died on Tuesday at 97, was a Broadway legend, an actress who toured well into her 70s and remained a cultural fixture long after that. Those who knew her remembered her as both a larger-than-life presence and a woman who was delightfully unpretentious, a tireless performer who would ignore doctor’s orders to go onstage and a tireless promoter of her shows, even in front of a crowd of Brownie scouts.
A rave review was her best medicine
Lee Roy Reams performed with Ms. Channing in several shows, including “Hello, Dolly!” Ms. Channing originated the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi on Broadway and reprised it several times. Mr. Reams said she was a performer who tried to never — never, ever — miss a show.
When she injured her arm on a tour of “Dolly” in the 1990s, Mr. Reams said, she performed in a sling, switched out periodically to coordinate with her costume. When that tour went through Reno, Nev., he said, both of them lost their voices, so they went on anyway and talked through their songs. And when the show was in Denver, she hurt the ball of her right foot. A doctor said she could not go on for at least two to three weeks.
That night, Ms. Channing went onstage in a pair of flats, which had been covered in spats to match her costume. No one seemed to mind: The reviews were raves.
The next day, Mr. Reams arrived at the theater to find Ms. Channing back in her original costume, high-heeled boots and all.
“I said, ‘You can’t do that, you heard what the doctor said,’” Mr. Reams recalled. “And then she said — in that voice of hers — ‘Isn’t it a miracle what a good review can do?’
“She wore her heeled boots from that point on,” he said.
[How the “Hello, Dolly!” cast album lured the theater critic Ben Brantley to New York.]
She once set Bernadette Peters straight
“A few years ago I was performing in Palm Springs, and Carol was in the audience,” Ms. Peters said in an email. “I introduced…