Today we lost a legend. A gorgeous 89 year old woman with a voice of gravel and a hatred of pants, who I’m sure many Pajibans appreciated for her complete lack of f*cks given. While her audience grew enormously with her turn on 30 Rock as Jack’s horrible mother, that role came toward the end of a 70 year career, during which time she made a large enough impact on the theatre world to prompt a minute of dimmed lights on Broadway tomorrow night. The woman led one hell of a life and as sad as it is to know she’s gone, we’re all better for her existence.
She was, after all, the queen of the ladies who lunch.
Stephen Sondheim wrote that role (Joanne in Company) specifically for Stritch, inspired by her “acerbic delivery of self-assessment”. She was a vodka stinger herself who battled publicly with alcoholism. She had a one-woman show, an incredible documentary, and she gave one of the best acceptance speeches in the history of the Emmys. At 17, she went on a date with Marlon Brando that ended with her taking the train back to a convent at 3 am. She dropped f-bombs whenever the f*ck she felt like it. She made David Letterman her pool boy. She didn’t wear pants.
Elaine Stritch had an incredible, absolutely one of a kind voice, and she always seemed to put every ounce of feeling she had inside her into every word she ever sang or spoke, funneling it into a decimating laser of wry wit. Her memory may not have always been the best, but who the hell cares when you’ve got those pipes, those legs, and have led that life? She sure as f*ck didn’t. Let’s drink to that.