Between getting a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and being involved with events over the years, Carol Channing has left a footprint on the Coachella Valley. Several Palm Springs residents spent Tuesday remembering the icon after she passed away that morning.
“She came by in this beautiful, white, mink coat in a car and we were sweating and she looked perfect,” Chip Wheeler, a Palm Springs resident, said.
Wheeler is referencing when Channing was the Grand Marshall of the Christmas parade a couple years ago in Palm Springs. He stopped by her star on Tuesday afternoon to take a trip down memory lane and pay tribute to a talent he saw perform three times.
“She just was just a wonderful woman, such a Broadway icon,” Wheeler said.
Right up the street at Lolli and Pops, employee Douglas Morton reflected on his friendship with the star. A woman he describes as sweeter than the candy he sells.
“She was probably one of the most friendly people I knew in my life,” Morton said.
After a few run-ins with the bubbly star, Morton requested she help him with a local fundraiser, in which she responded, “Talk to Harry,” her childhood sweetheart husband.
“I talked to Harry everyday for three to four months for anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour,” Morton said. “After many months of these phone calls, I grew to love Harry.”
Little did he know, Channing was tuning in too.
“He [Harry] said I have a surprise for you, he goes, ‘Douglas, Carol has been listening to every one of our calls here at the table’ and she comes on in her Carol Channing way and she goes ‘Douglas, I can’t wait to do your fundraiser’,” Morton said with a grin.
A woman of her word, Channing came through with the fundraiser and their friendship grew. Morton learned more and more about the talented icon off the stage.
“Do you know that every night before bed, Harry would play the piano and she would sing two songs,” Morton said. “One would be an American song like ‘God Bless America’ and the second one would be something to the effect of ‘Give my Regards to Broadway’.”
Channing would have been 98 years old on January 31 but her legacy in the Coachella Valley lives on.
“Every time I think of her I will be happy and remember how much joy she brought to me and if she did that to me, she did that to millions of other people,” Morton said.