Elaine Stritch might be Broadway’s greatest living legend. At 89 years old, the star has appeared on international stages in classic productions of Company, Bus Stop, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Mame, as well as a popping up in acclaimed performances in Woody Allen’s September and as Jack Donaghy’s mother on 30 Rock (a role for which she won an Emmy). Today sees the release of a documentary about her long, storied career called Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. A loving and touching portrait of the actor as she looks back at her life’s work and prepares to retire to her hometown of Detroit, the film features interviews from frequent collaborators and friends such as Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, John Turturro, and the late James Gandolfini. To celebrate the release, here’s a look back at some of the best moments from her versatile career on stage and screen.
“The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company
Stritch’s signature song is the 11-‘o’-clock number from Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company. In this vintage clip, Stritch gives an intimate performance of the song while still retaining the power she holds over an audience from the stage.
“The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Company: Original Cast Recording
Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker shot a behind-the-scenes look at the Company cast recording, and the standout moment is Stritch’s recording of “The Ladies Who Lunch.” It shows how challenging she can be as a performer, but also how much she cares about nailing her performance.
On Knowing Marlon Brando
In her Tony and Emmy-winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Stritch looked back at her long, storied career on Broadway. One of the funnier tales was of her date with a young actor in her acting class: Marlon Brando.
A Farewell to Arms
While she’s primarily known as a musical theatre and comedic actress, Stritch stretched her dramatic muscles as Helen Ferguson in this epic adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel.
“Someday My Prince Will Come” on The Dean Martin Variety Show
At first it’s a little jarring to hear Stritch’s recognizable vocals tackle this Disney-princess classic, but by the time Ernest Borgnine shows up, it’s comedy gold.
From 1975 to 1979, Stritch starred in the ITV series Two’s Company as an American author who butts head with her British butler. In this series of clips from the 1975 Christmas episode, Stritch’s real-life husband John Bay shows up as her character’s cousin, Clarence, from Brooklyn.
On the Late Show With David Letterman
In the mid-’90s, Stritch appeared in this absurd running gag on the Late Show With David Letterman in which she played a rich old lady who mistakes Letterman for her pool boy. Why? Who knows. But it’s brilliant.
On Auditioning for The Golden Girls
In another clip from Elaine Stritch at Liberty, Stritch recounts a major network sitcom she auditioned for — a part she eventually lost, obviously, to Bea Arthur. (Can you imagine?)
“I’m Still Here” From Follies
In another At Liberty clip, Stritch performs this classic song from Sondheim’s Follies. Despite the fact that she never played the part on Broadway, the song has become almost synonymous with Stritch’s career and legacy.
Elaine Stritch Doesn’t Give a Fuck
Back in town this week to promote Shoot Me, Stritch stopped by the fourth hour of The Today Show to chat with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford — and, naturally, said “fuck” live on network TV. Why not? Good for her.