Beloved actress Elaine Stritch, a Broadway legend who in recent years earned attention for a brilliant recurring role on 30 Rock, died Thursday in her home in Birmingham, Michigan, The New York Times reports. She was 89.
Stritch began her career in the mid-40s and arrived on Broadway in 1946 in the show Loco; but her career began to truly take off in the 1952 revival of Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and John O’Hara’s Pal Joey. In 1961 she picked up her third Tony nomination for her staring role in the musical, Sail Away, and in 1971 she earned a role in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, making “The Ladies Who Lunch” one of her signature songs.
Stritch parlayed her Broadway success into numerous TV and film roles, appearing in Woody Allen’s September and Small Time Crooks, and quite notably earning a recurring guest role on 30 Rock as Colleen, the wonderfully acerbic, fork-tongued mother of Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy. For her turn on 30 Rock, she was nominated five times for the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2007.
Openly fond of a drink, a smoke and a good time, Stritch brought elements of her real life persona to her performances, and in 2002 won her first Tony for her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty. During the hit show, Stritch recounted her lengthy career — form her successes on stage to struggles with alcoholism — through stories and a number of songs she helped make famous, and a few she managed to make her own at the age of 76.
Just this past year, Stritch starred Chiemi Karasawa’s documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, in which she discussed her career as she prepared to move from New York City to Michigan. Our own Peter Travers wrote of the film: “There’s no begging for sympathy. Not once. Stritch faces down her demons. So cheers to a movie as gloriously entertaining and bluntly honest as the lady herself. Everybody rise.”