The line outside the Majestic Theater on Monday stretched from 44th Street around the corner to 45th. They weren’t waiting to see the 8062nd performance of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Showbiz and showbiz lovers had come to applaud Kitty Carlisle Hart for her final curtain. She died at the age of 96 on April 1, leaving a legacy never to be forgotten or equaled. Christopher Hart said his mother told Irene Selznick she was going to commit suicide after her husband Moss Hart died in 1961 at the age of 57. But Selznck told her that by the time Kitty would have decided on a dress, shoes, purse, hat, “The impetus would have passed.” He then recalled a Hart family vacation in Florida when Kitty, at the age of 93, insisted on riding a breathtaking water slide. “She took off like an aquatic ‘Mary Poppins’. I was so glad she didn’t jump on 55th Street in 1961.”
In a montage of scenes of her life, Kitty Carlisle at the age of 92 demonstrated, how seniors could/should exercise by wrapping a leg around her neck. Michael Feinstein had booked her into his club at the Regency four times. She told him, “My career rally took off when you hired me.” She was 94 at the time. After her final appearance, she told him, “I certainly hope you’ll consider booking me next fall”
Michael sang “It’s June In January” on which he and Kitty would duet when he visited her. He’d sing the Bing Crosby harmony (it was from the 1934 Crosby-Hart film, “Here Is My Heart”). “It became our unofficial theme”
Other performances included Kristin Chenoweth, who sang “I like Him” and “My Bill.” (She is also set to sing at a memorial to Betty Comden Sept.18). Also on the bill was KT Sullivan, who sang “Villia.” The Shuberts’ Gerald Schoenfeld, Anne Kaufman (who with Cathy Hart will now oversee the Hart-George S. Kaufman works), Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo and Barbara Walters added their touching remembrances and tributes to Kitty’s untiring efforts for the N.Y. Council on the Arts, what many consider her most important legacy. I will always remember her non-ending exuberance for the biz and perfection in performance.