The character of Joanne was not only written for Elaine Stritch, it was based on her, or at least on her acerbic delivery of self-assessment, as exemplified by a moment George Furth had shared with her: they had entered a bar at two in the morning and Elaine, well-oiled, had murmured to the bartender in passing, "Just give me a bottle of vodka and a floor plan." It was my third attempt to write for a specific personality playing a specific character. The song fit her perfectly, the only problem occurring when, in all innocence, she asked me what kind of pastry "a piece of Mahler's" referred to - she figured it had to be some sort of schnecken.
Privately, I had hoped that the number would be such a showstopper in Elaine's hands that the audience would actually get up on the "Rise!" repetitions and give her a standing ovation.
"Elaine was my friend for a while. She was, of course, a demented genius - in loveable ways. Can we appreciate the people who are around us right now? The answer, of course, is No, for we are all pathetic human beings.
It takes death for us to say aloud: thank you for everything, Elaine Stritch."
On dating Rock Hudson:
“I walked into that innocently, and I walked out doubly innocently.”
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