Apr 19, 2007

A grande old dame

Kitty Carlisle Hart is dead at age 96. What a life! And what a good time she had living it.
Even into her mid-90s Miss Carlisle was indefatigable. Never one to sit back, sigh and let life pass her by, she was a dyed-in-greasepaint show business trouper who enthusiastically took her act on the road until her health began to fail.

As she reminisced onstage, telling anecdotes that were just salty enough to suggest the foibles of the numerous legends she knew without toppling them, Broadway was “the American musical thea-tah,” a term she trilled with the zest of a schoolgirl. She made you believe that the dazzling world of famous composers, directors, politicians and show folk in which moved constituted an exclusive place of ultimate glamour and civility that has now vanished. Among the standards she sang in a remarkably sturdy voice, tinged with an operatic vibrato, she brought a special conviction to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Something Wonderful.”

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