A Tony Award-winning actress and singer passed away on Tuesday morning. Barbara Cook, a legendary performer during Broadway’s Golden Age, died from respiratory failure at the age of 89.
Cook began her career on Broadway in 1950. Her notoriety took off during her 1956 role in “Candide.” Though the show was short-lived, the popular cast and demanding vocals secured Cook’s place in the spotlight.
“I was counting the high notes in the score and there were four E flats over high C, there were six D flats, there were 16 B flats and 21 high Cs…that’s just unbelievable,” Cook said in a recent interview about her breakout performance. “It’s unheard of. But that’s what was in the score for me to sing and I did it eight times a week.”
Cook’s career continued with a role in “The Music Man.” She played Marian, a spinster who falls for a con artist. Her role in this show earned her a Tony Award.
As the 1960s were nearing their end, Cook’s roles on Broadway began thinning. According to NPR, she endured a difficult period of time, battling alcoholism, depression, and obesity.
Cook stayed out of the public eye until 1975, when she reemerged as a concert and cabaret artist. New York Times critic Stephen Holden praised the artist’s musical talents and interpretations.
He said, “High voices don’t express much. They’re just beautiful and phenomenal. And it’s low voices that you can really get into the dark side of things, or whatever you want to call it. And she goes there and puts all of her life into what she sings.”
Cook was highly admired for bringing her own opinions and taste into her performances.
She said, “I think it’s absolutely, totally important for a person, first of all, to hopefully know who they are as a performer and to choose songs that illuminate that person; and then to be present- to really, really be present.”
The artist died while surrounded by friends and family at her home in Manhattan.
Be praying for Cook’s family and friends as they say goodbye to a loved one. Another actor died this week who captured the hearts of many throughout the ages. Read more about it here.