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Elaine Stritch, inimitable stage star, dead at 89

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Elaine StritchBroadway lost one of its strongest, saltiest and most enduring voices Monday, when Elaine Stritch – actress, singer, long-legged and sharp-tongued force of nature – shook off her mortal coil Thursday, at 89.

Stritch's career on Broadway stretched back to 1946, when she made her debut in a comedy called Loco. For many decades after that, she delivered memorable performances in works by masters ranging from Rodgers and Hart to Edward Albee. She was a particularly perceptive purveyor of the songs of Stephen Sondheim; appearing in the original cast of his Company in 1970, she introduced The Ladies Who Lunch, an acid-and-alcohol-soaked manifesto that became one of her signature songs and one of the most inimitable recordings in the history of musical theater.

Her final appearance on the Main Stem was in 2010, in a revival of Sondheim's A Little Night Music; prior to that she starred in her own one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, in 2002, earning her Drama Desk Awards for both her performance and her help in "reconstructing" John Lahr's book. (Astonishingly, Stritch never received a Tony, though she did collect several nominations.)

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