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Elaine Stritch celebrates her Emmy for Outstanding Variety or Music Program for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004. (File / Kevin Sullivan / Orange County Register)

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch dies at age 89

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Broadway legend Elaine Stritch dies at age 89
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Elaine Stritch, whose husky voice and brassy demeanor dominated stages from New York's Broadway to London's West End in a career of more than 60 years, died Thursday at age 89, her spokesman said.


Stritch, who also had Emmy-winning roles on the television shows "30 Rock" and "Law & Order," died in Birmingham, Mich., a suburb of her native Detroit, from natural causes. She had suffered from diabetes for several years and had been in declining health.

Stritch worked with some of the stage's greatest composers - from Noel Coward, who called her Stritchie, to Stephen Sondheim, who wrote what became her signature song, the show-stopping "The Ladies Who Lunch," from the 1970 musical "Company."

Her voice did not have great range but she brought emotion and impeccable timing to anything she sang.

In a lengthy theater career whose ups and downs included a debilitating but ultimately successful battle with alcoholism, Stritch had a temperament that was outsized even by Broadway standards.

Her long fight with the bottle formed a narrative corner for her 2002 one-woman Broadway show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” for which she won her only Tony following four nominations. 

The autobiographical production was part of a late-career resurgence for Stritch. It was later filmed for HBO, winning her an Emmy Award.

Stritch was so closely identified with Broadway and New York that the city's landmark conservancy group declared her a living landmark in 2003. In 2013, Stritch said she no longer had the energy required to live in New York and returned to her native Michigan. Life in the Detroit suburbs proved to be a tough transition, however, and two months after moving she told Vanity Fair magazine, "I don't have a damn thing to do except take walks in Birmingham, Mich., and I've done that."

Stritch first went to New York from Detroit in 1944 at age 17 to attend finishing school. She became caught up in the stage world and studied at Stella Adler's prestigious acting school, where Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau were classmates.

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.