When Elaine Stritch performed her landmark one-woman show At Liberty, one of the funniest anecdotes involved her failed audition for The Golden Girls. It didn’t go well for her and the part ultimately went to the legendary Bea Arthur (who it seems was even in the character’s description in the pilot script), a contemporary of Stritch’s at the New School for Dramatic Research and whose solo one-woman show opened in the same season. Though the two are distinctive in their inimitable deadpan deliveries, it makes perfect sense that there are roles through their careers which they have shared. One of these roles is Vera in Mame. Arthur famously originated the part on Broadway opposite Angela Lansbury to Tony-winning effect. Stritch later went on a national tour as Vera opposite Janet Blair, whom she also apparently understudied. (She’s perfect for Vera, not so ideal for Mame – at least in the musical).
Stritch went to the London in 1972 for the West End premiere of Company and she ended up staying for a decade. During this time she met and married actor John Bay and took up residence at the Savoy, while also starring in her own hilarios Britcom Two’s Company with Donald Sinden about a brash American writer and her staid British butler. This is an appearance on the 1979 Royal Variety Performance performing an expectedly Stritch-like rendition of “It’s Today.” (I especially like how she splits from the chorus kids for her own one-woman kickline).