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Carol Channing campaigns for art in schools

September 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In the world of show business, Carol Channing is a legend thanks to her musical stage work and signature songs. But as she approaches 90, Channing is using her voice to sing the praises of arts in our public schools.Channing first made the song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" her own on Broadway in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

She did the same thing starring in her most memorable stage role as Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly."

"I did over 5,000 performances of 'Hello, Dolly' alone which is over a span of 30 years," said Channing.

Channing and her husband of seven years, Harry Kullijian, are on a major mission to get arts back in America's public schools.

"It's not culture - it is life. This is what makes people thrilled with public school. We discovered poetry, when I was 12 and Harry was 13," Channing said.

"We were immersed in the arts. We just loved it and it formed us," said Kullijian.

Now, it drives them both. Channing's foundation has already handed out money to bring musical instruments to elementary school kids.

They've also joined forces with the Parent-Teacher Association.

And with the help of some friends, Channing has even done her own public service announcement.

"It exercises their brain for things that don't relate to the arts at all," Channing explained.

Channing has spent her life in the performing arts. She's currently performing her one-woman show, "The First 80 Years Are the Hardest."

Next year, she and her husband plan to show us some of their educational success stories during a telethon they're organizing.

"It's thrilling. It's happening, and now we're going to have this telethon," Channing said. "We're going to show the children that have gotten so happy and so glad to go to school."

All this has Channing singing a song about education.

"Yes, it's a fact you'll find, the arts expand the mind in science, history, math, biology, zoology and even sociology, psychology, mythology and also genealogy," sang Channing.


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