RIP, Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch, the famed actress and singer, died today at the age of 89. The clip above is her performing “The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Company; this clip of her struggling to record the perfect take for the cast recording is worth watching, too. Shoot Me, a documentary about Stritch that came out last year and is available for streaming on Netflix now, includes this perfect anecdotal tribute from the late James Gandolfini:

I first met her at a Sopranos premiere. Somebody was behind me and said, “I think you’re wonderful!” And I turn around and I look down and I said, “thank you,” and I turn back around and I heard, “Don’t condescend to me, you son of a bitch!” And I turned around and I looked at this little, beautiful lady and she gave me some diatribe about something, and I immediately fell in love with her.

She has a certain kind of strength and a bullshit meter. In my profession, there’s a lot of cynicism — sometimes you think you’re ridiculous putting on somebody else’s shirt and pants and pretending to be somebody, and then you run into someone like her who reminds you that it’s a beautiful tradition, and it’s an art. It’s really nice to find that. And if we’d both met when we were 35, I’ve no doubt that we would have had a torrid love affair which would have ended very badly.

I’ll drink to that, and to this. [NYT]

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