NEW YORK – Elaine Stritch, the brash theater performer whose gravelly, gin-laced voice and impeccable comic timing made her a Broadway legend, has died. She was 89.
Joseph Rosenthal, Stritch’s longtime attorney, said the actress died Thursday of natural causes at her home in Birmingham, Michigan.
Although Stritch appeared in movies and on television, garnering three Emmys and finding new fans as Alec Baldwin’s unforgiving mother on 30 Rock, she was best known for her stage work, particularly in her candid one-woman memoir, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, and in the Stephen Sondheim musical Company.
A tart-tongued monument to show business endurance, Stritch worked well into her late 80s, most recently as Madame Armfeldt in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. She replaced Angela Lansbury in 2010 to critical acclaim.
In 2013, Stritch – whose signature no pants style was wearing a loose-fitting white shirt over sheer black tights – retired to Michigan after 71 years in New York City and made a series of farewell performances at the Carlyle Hotel: Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin’ Over and Out.
She said she suffered from diabetes, a broken hip and memory loss – all of which she nakedly and unapologetically revealed in Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a documentary released in February.
I like the courage of age, Stritch said in the film, one she participated in grudgingly. One scene captured her in a hospital bed, reflecting: It’s time for me, and I can feel it everywhere.