Elaine Stritch Bids the Stage Farewell at Cafe Carlyle; Playbill Was There

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03 Apr 2013

Elaine Stritch
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The remainder of the hour-long show was taken by reminiscences, some of which were prompted by cards plucked out of a silver bowl by members of the audience. Attendees were encouraged to shout out the topic written on each card. "Gregory Peck" led to a memory of Stritch encountering the film actor standing in the lobby of the Savoy Hotel in London. "Oh my God! It's Gregory Peck!" shouted the ever star-struck actress. Peck's cool, deep-voiced response: "I know."

"Jane Fonda" provoked a remembrance of encountering Fonda, seemingly alone, on the street. "Jane!" called out Stritch. The next thing she heard was "Cut!" It was a film set.

Anecdotes about going out to dinner with JFK and planning a hypothetical tour of Mame with Judy Garland (with Garland's daughter listening in the audience) followed, some of the stories familiar to any follower of Stritch's Zelig-like career. Two calls from the crowd to talk about her relationship to Marlon Brando were rejected. "It's too f**king complicated," complained the actress.

A long passage about meeting Stephen Sondheim teased the audience that a final performance of Stritch's signature song, "Ladies Who Lunch" from Company, was imminent. But, sadly, it was not to be.

She closed by reading from a fan letter written by Alex, a third grader in Memphis. The boy had been assigned the task of writing a note to someone whose work he enjoyed, and asking for an autograph. "I was going to write to Brett Favre," Alex wrote, mentioning the Green Bay Packers quarterback, "but then I thought I'd write to you." His reason: his mother, who was sick, laughed a lot when she watched videos of Stritch in the documentaries "Company: Original Cast Album" and "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty." "I guess I don't know much about your work," wrote the boy, "except you made my mom happy."

With that, she made her long journey from the stage to the dressing room, with stops to greet and enthuse over the celebrities in the audience.

"I've been up all night, all my life," she commented. "Now I can go to sleep at 9."

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Elaine Stritch
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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