Some celebrity passings are sadder than others, even when it’s a performer in their 90th year of being fabulous as Elaine Stritch was. Dying at 89 is no tragedy; it is, as they say, a good innings and it’s what happens at that end of your life. But Ms Stritch never did seem her age. Even in the last few years as she was getting visibly more frail, you still thought she’d kick on forever.
I’ve loved Elaine Stritch since I first saw her eating the scenery as Mrs McGee in The Cosby Show. In those days I didn’t know what a veteran of the stage she was, but it didn’t take long for me to figure that out. When I was 16 I was in New York City and she was on Broadway in Show Boat. My friend and I had tickets to Cats, but oh how I wish I’d seen both.
That was more than 20 years ago now, and since then her legend has grown and grown. She aged into the most lovable cantankerous old dame you could imagine. She was everything I hope to grow old enough to be. It’s only a couple of months since she appeared on the American version of the Today Show in a wheelchair saying “fuck” like she’d say “good morning.” She really did put the Broad in Broadway.
A new generation got to love her in 30 Rock, perfectly cast as Jack’s overbearing mother Colleen, but my favourite performance? Sondheim’s birthday concert in 2010. She was 85 years old, and she was perfect as she rasped her way through “I’m Still Here.” If only she was.