Barbara Cook was the real deal who inspired signature roles in movies and television shows. She made her mark on Broadway and no one can fill her shoes. She will certainly be missed as she just passed away at the age of 89 of respiratory failure, her son Adam LeGrant reported.

If movies or television shows were role-playing a Broadway legend who was young and beautiful in her day, ran into issues mid-career, and then bounced back later in life, that role was inspired by the one and only Barbara Cook. She was the star of Broadway hits The Music Man, She Loves Me, and Candide.

A Young Barbara Cook Who Wowed Audiences

barbara cook

She belted out a crystal clear soprano voice as a young beautiful blond star on stage. In the ’50s, she was often cast as the young innocent and wholesome character. That’s how she was able to develop the role of Cunegonde in Candide, the 1956 Leonard Bernstein musical. “Glitter and Be Gay” became one of her signature songs.

In 1957, she won a Tony Award for playing Marian the Librarian in The Music Man opposite Robert Preston. But in the early ’70s, her Broadway career came to an end. She was struggling with weight gain brought on by depression and her alcohol consumption.

A Throwback To Barbara Cook Coming Back

barbara cook

She knew it was a problem and it was holding back her career. “Because of this package I’m in, it became more difficult to get roles. They asked me to be Tug Boat Annie — what the hell have I got do with Tug Boat Annie?” she said.

Her drinking spiraled completely out of control and it was time for her to reign it back in. By the ’80s, she was sober and ready to attack Broadway again. That’s when she reinvented her career as “The American Songbook’s Greatest Interpreter.” Her comeback was officially marked in 1985 when she played the part of Sally Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at Lincoln Center. When she sang “Losing My Mind,” it was clear she was officially back.

She went on to record the highly-acclaimed albums Barbara Cook’s Broadway, Barbara Cook at the Met, and Mostly Sondheim: Live at Carnegie Hall.

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