One actress, two takes. Funny how we can think of ourselves so differently from how we may seem to others...
“He used to sit in the audience with a pencil and he would draw right there what he saw on the stage. He would sit on the aisle and, oh, boy, he got it. For Dolly, he drew me with two itty-bitty eyes and a huge mouth. That’s when I began wearing longer eyelashes and a lower line under the eye. I think he exaggerated, but everybody says no, that’s you. I didn’t know I was exaggerated. I mean, I thought I looked normal. But I’m proud. I’m glad that I have that individual a look. It sure is a funny image, but I don’t see where it’s me."
-Carol Channing, on her portrait by Al Hirschfeld, October 2013
"Today's [Vogue photo] sitting with Carol Channing: 'You are the only one who saw through that fat - saw me,' she said. She was fat, frightened, and funny when I first saw her, but she knew what she wanted - to be thought beautiful (or to think herself beautiful) and to be a star. She is the latter and she believes the former. 'Everything,' she said, 'must come from the character. You must believe in her and then you are free. Nothing can happen to you - only to her.'"
- Leo Lerman, to his diary, June 11, 1973
Is that the great gift (or is it a curse?) given to performers and others who for whatever reason are larger than life:that they inhabit a persona that protects - or isolates - their innermost selves from harm, time, damage?
Having made it now to 92, maybe Carol knows. Or is that something she left behind, along with the fat, frightened, gauche young girl? Or is it all just a question of hitting on the right lash-length, the correct line under the eye?
Lerman knows, but he's not telling.