Broadway star and gay icon Elaine Stritch dies at 89

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The legendary Tony and Emmy award-winning Broadway star and singer, Elaine Stritch passed away today at her home in Birmingham, Michigan.

Stritch, whose career spanned over six decades, starred in musicals, non-musical dramas, solo cabaret shows, television, and movies.

She began her acting career in 1940 when she came to New York City to pursue her dreams. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan in 1925.

Throughout her career, she garnered six Primetime Emmy nominations and three wins for her roles on “Law and Order”, “30 Rock”, and “Elaine Stritch at Liberty.”

Stritch was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for Children in 2005.

She won her only Tony following four nominations for her 2002 one-woman show, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” which she performed on Broadway. The show was a memoir that told the story of her long battle with alcoholism.

In 1968, she told the New York Times: “I drink, and I love to drink, and it’s part of my life.” She was not shy about her partying ways or sharp tongue.

This year, Stritch candidly admitted in an article with PrideSource that she was always longing for the love her parents could not express.

Stritch says she felt adored and appreciated and, most of all, loved by the sea of people she looked out on every night, including her gay audience that she recently became aware of after 70 years.

As a Broadway legend Stritch confesses she was not always aware that the gay community considered her an icon. She said: “I’m just becoming aware of it.”

On her gay fan base she said: “I gotta get in that line, because I think gay people have extraordinary humor. Extraordinary! I’m talking deep, deep, deep humor.”

Her fondness stemmed from her close relationships with gay men throughout her career.

Amongst the gay men in her life was Edward Albee, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. Stritch worked with Albee on the 1996 revival of “A Delicate Balance,” and in 1962, as Martha on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Stritch also had a close relationship with gay American actor Rock Hudson, whom she was rumored to have dated during their collaboration in 1957 on Ernest Hemingway’s love story “A Farewell to Arms.”

Hudson had a prominent Hollywood career in the 1950s and 1960s. He was recorded confessing to his wife about his sexuality by a private detective she had hired in 1958.

Hudson, who was not openly gay died of complications with AIDS in 1985.

Stritch was married once and dated her former classmate, Marlon Brando, in 1947.

Elaine Stritch was parodied on “The Big Gay Sketch Show,” an LGBT-themed sketch comedy program that debuted in 2007. The series was produced by Rosie O’Donnell.

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