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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.

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