Tributes to Carol Channing have poured in since the news of her death broke early Tuesday morning
The Great White Way is paying tribute to one of their own.
Carol Channing, the saucer-eyed, gravelly voiced Broadway barnstormer whose offbeat personality and marquee value fueled such Golden Age musicals as Gentleman Prefer Blondes and Hello, Dolly!, has died, her publicist B Harlan Boll confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE. She was 97.
Tributes to the late Tony winner have poured in since the news of her death broke early Tuesday morning, including Bette Midler who took over her famous role in Hello, Dolly! in the 2016 Broadway revival.
“There was only one Carol Channing, and there will never be another. She was that rarest of stage creatures, an absolute original,” Midler said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “From her instantly recognizable voice, to her stature, which was close to 6 feet, with her wide-eyed take on the world she crept into theater-goers hearts and took up permanent residence there.”
She continued, “When Scott Rudin invited me to play Dolly in 2016, I immediately thought of her and went to visit. How could I not? She had played the part over 7,000 times around the world, and to the world, she WAS Dolly. It was one of the great afternoons of my life. She was gracious and she was generous, sharing with me the legends, the lore and the mechanics of Dolly, much of which had been lost in time. I will forever be grateful to her for lighting my way to one of the most magical experiences of my performing life, and for the hours I spent in her company.”
“I flat-out adored her and send her fans, her friends and her son, Channing Lowe, my condolences, although as far as I am concerned, she will live forever,” she concluded.
Other Broadway stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters also honored the late Broadway legend.
Miranda quoted lyrics from a Hello, Dolly! song and said simply, “Goodbye, Carol,” while Peters honored her charming personality.
“She was show business and love personified,” she wrote.
Star Trek actor George Takei wrote a sweet message for the late actress and referenced one of the songs that made her famous.
“One of Broadway’s greatest lights, Carol Channing, has passed on. She rejoins the heavens as a new diamond in the night sky, and as she famously sang, they are a girl’s best friend. Goodbye and farewell, forever our Dolly,” he wrote.
Playbill editor Ryan McPhee shared a video of Channing performing at 90 years old that showed just how much she loved it.
“Carol Channing convinced you she was invincible on the stage,” he wrote alongside the clip.
Between Blondes and Dolly!, Channing did nightclubs and TV appearances. And while, because of her exaggerated personality and gestures, movies were never really her forté (Marilyn Monroe played Lorelei on screen in Gentleman Prefer Blondes), she did earn an Oscar nomination as the eccentric rich widow in 1967’s Thoroughly Modern Millie.