Carol Channing, The Original “Dolly,” Praises Bette Midler’s Tony Win
by Dan Avery
June 12, 2017
Bette Midler was the dame of the evening at Sunday’s Tonys, winning the award for Best Actress in a Musical for Hello Dolly—and telling producers to “Shut that crap off!” when they tried to play her off.
In her speech, Midler thanked producers, mentors and co-stars, as well as Carol Channing, who originated the role of Dolly Levi in the show’s original 1964 Broadway production.
And the 96-year-old stage veteran returned the favor: On Facebook legendary publicist B. Harlan Boll shared that Channing was touched by Midler’s praise and thought the award was well-deserved.
“Within minutes of Bette Midler’s acceptance speech, I received a call from Carol Channing (having received a call from Tommy Tune) asking me to not only congratulate Bette on social media for her, but to thank her for the heartfelt shout out to she and all the Dollys before her,” Boll wrote. [She said] ’She has done us all proud!’”
While Midler has been on Broadway before, this is her first leading role in a musical. In an interview with Playbill last year, Channing called Midler’s casting “inspired” and revealed the two had met to discuss the part.
“We discussed Dolly’s history and the spine of her story. Well, every character in the show, actually. They are all rejoining the human race, and Dolly is their anchor… or cheerleader.”
Channing has played matchmaker Dolly Levi thousands of times in several Broadway revivals, most recently in 1995.