On Thursday, at the age of 89, acting great Elaine Stritch died.
I first came to know Elaine Stritch as the hilarious Colleen Donaghy (Alec Baldwin’s Mother) on 30 Rock, the NBC comedy staring Tina Fey. She was truly hilarious. Like Betty White, but more New York, more biting, and more of an alcoholic. She made me laugh so hard, from her short initial appearance on this show, that I decided to look her up, and see what else this funny old lady had done.
I soon realized, Elaine Stritch had lived the kind of life I had dreamed of living.
In looking her up, I found that I was watching a living legend. As prolific as Angela Lansberry, and as influential as Gene Kelly, Elaine Stritch was show business personified. With four Tony nominations and one win, 8 Emmy noms and three wins, in a career that spanned seven decades, it is safe to say she was a pro.
I find her inspiring as an actor. But, there is much we can all take away from Miss Stritch, no matter your profession.
Elaine cut the bull shit. And in the acting world, this is a rare thing, indeed. She once told James Gandolfini she loved she work, and he said thanks and turned away without even making eye contact with her. Once his back was turned she said, “don’t you condescend to me, you son of a bitch.” He snapped around, and they became friends from that moment on.
She was always honest, even with her self. In this video, you can see just how hard on herself she was. But, it lead to a better product. Through her tough as nails, no holds bared working attitude, she got better and better at her craft, and left a theatrical legacy.
I say legacy, because she is being remembered by everyone from David Lettermen to Tina Fey. People across the country are having parties to watch her film and television productions in remembrance of her and her body of work.
I don’t want to be just like Elaine Stritch. She could be rude, dramatic, and at times difficult to work with because of how head strong she was. She was unflinching, and refused to change for anything.
I admire her for being herself. But, I want to be myself.
A performer I admire is gone. I know she will be missed by her fans and loved ones. I wanted to share a little context of her passing, because I think we could all stand to be a little less afraid, a little more brutally honest, a little more like Elaine.