Broadway legend Carol Channing passed away Tuesday (Jan. 15) at the age of 97. Best known for her starring role in Hello, Dolly, the actress was also a beloved ally to the LGBTQ community. Today, Caldwell Tidicue, best known as RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen, tributes the iconic comedian. During his season of Drag Race, Tidicue won a challenge in which he impersonated Channing, and she thanked him through a video message on the season 8 finale. Read his touching salute below.
Dear Ms. Channing,
Let me start by saying thank you. Over the years you have gifted the world with your extraordinary talents. You shared your smile, infectious laugh, and ability to make others laugh, and we are luckier for that.
At the 2004 Tony Awards, you presented the award for best original music and or lyrics written for the theatre with rapper LL Cool J. Believe it or not, this was my introduction to you. I saw an incredibly charismatic woman hit the stage in a silver sequined cocktail dress with fringe and a huge pair of sunglasses. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I asked my mother. “Who is that?” She said, “Boy you know LL Cool J!” I said, “No, the lady.” This began my obsession with your work. In fact, I now have a tattoo of you on my forearm as a constant reminder of that feeling.
Over the years you’ve been very accepting of the queer community, and that’s why we have held you in the highest of regards. You are and will always be a diva, and you know when the queer community calls you a diva that’s something special.
When I finally moved to NYC and started hanging around theater types, your influence really shone through. The drag queens would dress like you in the bars, and the Broadway actors were clearly influenced by your performances. I figured I would never get to see you perform because you hadn’t done a Broadway show since 1996. Then it was announced that you’d be appearing at Town Hall with Justin Vivian Bond. I rushed to get tickets and waited like a giddy schoolgirl.
That was a night I’ll never forget. I was at the theater 40 early because I didn’t want to miss anything. I went in with two close friends and we watched in awe. At the time you were 92 years old. You were escorted onto the stage and you took your seat. Justin interviewed you and you came to life. You were so full of energy! At one point an audience member asked if you remembered the famous “Ephraim let me go…” monologue. At which point you stood right up and it was like you were in your 40s again. You delivered the monologue. I got to hear you sing “Hello Dolly” live.
As I watched you glow with the opportunity to perform that song, I realized why I loved you so much: you speak to my soul through the language of comedy, and that’s a language Rosetta Stone can’t teach. You either have it or you don’t.
When I heard you sing I felt important. When I watched you smile I felt seen. Thank you for being a part of my storyline, thank you for creating the art that you did, and most of all thank you for just being special.
Watch Channing thank Tidicue on the season 8 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race below.