Carol Elaine Channing (born January 31, 1921) is an American singer, actress, and comedienne. She is the recipient of three Tony Awards (including one for lifetime achievement), a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Channing is best remembered for originating, on Broadway, the musical-comedy roles of bombshell Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and matchmaking widow Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!
Channing was born in Seattle, Washington, the only child of George and Adelaide (née Glaser) Channing. Her father was a city editor at the Seattle Star; his newspaper career took the family to San Francisco when Carol was only two weeks old. Her father later became a successful Christian Science practitioner, editor, and teacher. Carol attended Aptos Middle School and Lowell High School in San Francisco. At Lowell, Channing was a member of its famed Lowell Forensic Society, the nation's oldest high-school debate team.
According to Channing's memoirs, when she left home to attend Bennington College in Vermont, her mother informed her that her father, a journalist who Carol had believed was born in Rhode Island, had in fact been born in Augusta, Georgia, to a German-American father and an African-American mother. According to Channing's account, her mother reportedly did not want to be surprised "if she had a black baby". Channing kept this a secret to avoid any problems on Broadway and in Hollywood, ultimately revealing it only in her autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess, published in 2002 when she was 81 years old. Channing's autobiography, containing a photograph of her mother, does not have any photos of her father or son. Her book also states that her father's birth certificate was destroyed in a fire. (The November 4, 2002 issue of Jet magazine reported, based on her autobiography, that Carol Channing's father was African-American.)