You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Elisabeth Welch

Cabaret performer

This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003.

Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99.

Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923).

She was in African-American revue “Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1928” and traveled with the show to Paris, which introduced her to Europe.

In 1931, she was brought into the Cole Porter musical “The New Yorkers” to sing “Love for Sale” after it was deemed inappropriate for a white woman (Kathryn Crawford) to play a prostitute. She also appeared in Porter’s “Nymph Errant” in 1933.

Since that year, she appeared almost exclusively in London shows as a celebrated chanteuse but in 1986 returned to Broadway for “Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood,” for which she nabbed a Tony nom for featured actress in a musical.

She was also a prolific recording artist as well as performer in radio, films, plays and revues.

London shows include the Ivor Novello operetta “Glamorous Night” (1935) and “The Crooked Mile” (1959). Other London shows include “Cindy-Ella,” “A Marvellous Party” and “Pippin.” Some of her numerous films include playing opposite Paul Robeson in “Song of Freedom” (1936) and “Big Fella” (1937).

Her solo show, “Elisabeth Welch: Time to Start Living,” won her an Obie.

More Scene

  • Doug Davis Power of Law

    Doug Davis Discusses Using Music for a Cause at Variety's Power of Law Event

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

  • Ken Ziffren and Claudia EllerVariety Power

    Attorney Ken Ziffren Offers Sobering Take on Film Business at Variety's Power of Law Breakfast

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

  • 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    'The Handmaid's Tale' Cast, Creator Talk Season 2 in #MeToo Era, Expanding Gilead

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

  • Pamela Adlon Better Things

    Pamela Adlon: When 'Better Things' 'Stops Being Relatable Is When I Stop Doing My Show'

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

  • The Future She Built

    Inventor of the Inclusion Rider Discusses Why the Initiative Is Necessary at Panel

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

  • Independent School Alliance Awards

    Charles King, Nina Shaw Toast Tim and Vicky Mara Story at Independent School Gala

    This article was updated at 9:30 p.m. PT on July 20, 2003. Elisabeth Welch, Obie winner, Tony-nommed cabaret performer and a culture icon of Britain, died July 15 in Northwood, Middlesex, England. She was 99. Her first major stage appearance was introducing the song “Charleston” in Broadway’s “Runnin’ Wild” (1923). She was in African-American revue […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content