feature image from Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
On Thursday July, 17, Elaine Stritch passed away at her home in Birmingham, Michigan. There have been some amazing and wildly talented women that have lit up the stages of Broadway but none were brassier or sassier than Elaine Stritch. I always thought of theater as one of the most magical experiences anyone can experience and Elaine Stritch was one of it’s most skilled sorceresses. At 89 years old, she has worked with everyone from Sondheim to Dean Martin to Tina Fey (with numerous Tony and Emmy nominations thrown in for good measure). She will be equally remembered for the brassy characters she played and her brassier personality. What I’m trying to say is that, Elaine Stritch was a bitch and she didn’t give a f*ck what you thought about her. She was outspoken, uncompromising and FIERCE. She was the director of her own life and her tenacity and strong spirit will be sorely missed.
To pay tribute to this amazing woman I have collected some of my favorite moments from Elaine Stritch’s amazing career and hope you enjoy.
“The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company
Though Stritch made her Broadway debut when she was 21 years old, in 1946, she carved herself into Broadway history with Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical, Company.
Acceptance Speech at the 2004 Primetime Emmys
Oh yeah, in case winning over theater audiences wasn’t enough, she also had an extensive career in the big and small screens. She was nominated eight times for an Emmy, and won three. In this clip she just won an Emmy for her one woman show Elaine Stritch at the Liberty and her acceptance speech is the best thing ever.
Colleen on 30 Rock
Most of you probably know Stritch as Colleen, Jack Donaghy’s (Alec Baldwin) fabulous mother. It’s rumored that Stritch insisted on wearing her own fur coats and jewels to shoot the show, but was actually sending the bill to production and keeping her wardrobe! Oh Elaine, you sneaky little bitch.
Elaine Stritch at the Liberty
For a better (and much more entertaining) telling of Stritch’s life and career check out her Tony and Emmy winning one-woman show. In it, she talks about overcoming alcoholism, dissing Marlon Brando, and failing the audition for Golden Girls all while wearing no pants!
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
Thankfully, this past year someone was brilliant enough to dedicate an entire documentary that captures the complex and multi-dimensional woman that is Elaine Stritch. Along with interviews from friends and colleagues (including Tina Fey, Cherry Jones and James Gandolfini), the film follows Stritch (87 years old at the time) as she struggles with aging, diabetes and alcoholism while managing a packed schedule full of stage performances and guest appearances on TV. While I have not seen it (YET!) it’s been revered as a tender and intimate look of a complex woman and artist.
Here I leave you with some of my favorite quotes from Elaine Stritch through the years:
“All you have to do is say, ‘I’m going home’, and you’re the most popular girl at the party.”
“I never found anyone who could look after me as well as I could look after myself.”
“You can’t be funny unless you’re tragic, and you can’t be tragic unless you’re funny.”
“This age thing is all up to you. It’s like happiness is up to you. You just have to understand what it is before you get it.”