Acclaimed singer and actress Barbara Cook has dies at 89

Published 6:59 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NEW YORK — Barbara Cook, whose shimmering soprano made her one of Broadway’s leading ingenues and later a major cabaret and concert interpreter of popular American song, has died. She was 89.

Cook died early Tuesday of respiratory failure at her home in Manhattan, surrounded by family and friends, according to publicist Amanda Kaus. Her last meal was vanilla ice cream, a nod to one of her most famous roles in “She Loves Me.”

Throughout her nearly six decades on stage, Cook’s voice remained remarkably supple, gaining in emotional honesty and expanding on its natural ability to go straight to the heart.

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On Broadway, Cook was best known for three roles: her portrayal of the saucy Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” (1956); librarian Marian opposite Robert Preston in “The Music Man” (1957); and Amalia Balash, the letter-writing heroine of “She Loves Me” (1963).

Yet when Cook’s pert ingenue days were over, she found a second, longer career in clubs and concert halls, working for more than 30 years with Wally Harper, a pianist and music arranger. Harper helped in shaping her material, choosing songs and providing the framework for her shows.