Barbara Cook, Tony Award-Winning Actress And Singer, Dies At 89

Barbara Cook, Tony Award-Winning Actress And Singer, Dies At 89

Tony Award-winning actress and singer Barbara Cook, an ingénue in Broadway's Golden Age — during the 1950s and '60s — who later transformed herself into a concert and cabaret star, has died. She was 89.

Cook died early Tuesday of respiratory failure, surrounded by friends and family at her home in Manhattan, according to her publicist.

The Atlanta-born soprano started her Broadway career in 1950, but it was her 1956 role in Leonard Bernstein's short-lived Candide, with its popular cast recording, that ensured her immortality. In 2002, Cook told NPR that Bernstein's vocal demands were daunting.

"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," she said. "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 next Broadway outing proved to be one of her greatest triumphs. In The Music Man, she played the spinsterish Marian, a librarian who falls for con artist Harold Hill, played by Robert PrestonMeredith Willson wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show, which he later realized was a thinly veiled autobiography.

 

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