Carol Channing celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday, January 31. She’s having a benefit concert on February 21 with Phyllis Diller, JoAnne Worley and others to mark the occasion. Proceeds from the concert will benefit The Dr. Channing/Kullijian Foundation For The Arts and The Actors Fund. Yes, you read that right, it’s Dr. Channing. She received an honorary doctorate from California State University Stanislaus in 2004.
This clip is from the 1953 season of “The Buick Berle Show” (aka The Milton Berle Show). At the time Carol was no longer starring in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” She was in a play called “Wonderful Town.” It’s clear that she was already developing her repertoire of signature numbers. It’s hard to believe Carol was ever this young!
Let me just preface the following comments with a couple of words about the world view of African-American adults who lived most of their lives before the civil rights movement: “It’s different!” (Thought I was kidding about “a couple words” didn’t you?) Seriously though, they’re not crazy or stupid, the world they lived in was just a VERY different place.
My Beautiful Grandma was pretty convinced that much of Hollywood was secretly Black. I already told you about her Fred Astaire theory but there were lots more people up to and including Pat Sajak. One person who never made the “secretly Black” list was Carol Channing but guess what, according to her autobiography she is! Apparently her father was biracial and culturally African-American. Beautiful Grandma was always a fan so she’d have been thrilled to hear the news. On her behalf, I’m pleased to welcome Carol into our exclusive club. Your black power Afro pick and red, black and green membership card are in the mail.