Elaine Stritch, the Broadway legend and all-around volcano of a woman, has passed away at the age of 89. It's always tough to lose a beloved star, but it's especially grim when the star has absolutely no adequate contemporaries. Stritch's hyper-tough exterior and uproarious humor are without parallel, and now we encourage everybody to rise and watch these seven essential clips of her greatness.
1. The ultimate performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch”
Here it is, the version of “The Ladies Who Lunch” from the 1970 production of “Company” that basically set a new Broadway standard. She is feral and unforgiving and cool as hell. Her performance has the taste of — what else? — a fast-gulped vodka stinger.
2. The ultimate Emmy speech
“Elaine Stritch: At Liberty” is essential viewing, but if you want to boil Elaine's rancor and power down a single podium moment, here's what you need to see. She's dressed like the rowdiest church organist ever, and she is so, so, so happy to win and so, so, so happy everyone else lost. Note-perfect sorcery here.
3. With Stephen Sondheim, she offers unsparing opinions of herself.
Listen as Stephen Sondheim is truly a bastard to Elaine Stritch as she tries to lay down a vocal track, and then listen as Elaine herself copes with the fact that he's right. Her articulate vitriol is just as endearing as her stage panache.
4. She could even put David Letterman in his place.
Who could be bitterer than David Letterman? Try Elaine, who interrupts his show with some unamused angst. He is rightfully terrified.
5. Oh, that time she sang “I'm Still Here” to President Obama.
She may be gone, but she is still here. You can hear her entire career in the rough, but somehow quaint way she sings here.
6. “30 Rock”: I love you, Jack — but not in a queer way.
Here's Elaine in her last appearance on “30 Rock” as Colleen Donaghy, the mother of Alec Baldwin's Jack. Stritch won a Guest Actress Emmy for her work on the show, and here she expresses just how she'd like her funeral to go. That's right — she's explosive even in death.