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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Carol Channing, who created iconic roles on Broadway in "Hello, Dolly!" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," isn't touring quite as much as she once did. But in the words of a song she sang more than 5,000 times, she's still going strong. At least, that's the impression critic Bob Mondello got from the new documentary "Carol Channing: Larger Than Life."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE")

CAROL CHANNING: (Singing) I'm just a little girl from Little Rock.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Whenever New York Times caricaturist Al Hirschfeld sketched Carol Channing, he always made her appear a creature composed entirely of lipstick, mascara and hairspray. It says something about both his artistry and hers, that Channing has generally come across that way in real life too, as a fabulous but insubstantial cartoon. Channing was one of the few stars who could live up to those drawings, and as if to prove that, Dori Berinstein's documentary animates a couple and sets them right next to the star, who's pretty animated too, considering her advanced years.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE")

CHANNING: Seven, 77, it doesn't make any difference. And here I am almost 90, and I'm yet - and I'm still doing shows.

I don't know why you applaud that. It just happens.

MONDELLO: Channing is definitely performing Carol Channing for the camera, but she's pretty canny about the impression she's making. She's shown being a tireless trouper, practically taking TV interviewers hostage. In one clip, she reduces Gene Shalit to helpless cackling. Elsewhere, the film shows her playing gamely off her stage roles in a montage of sitcom appearances.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE")

CHANNING: (Singing) Hello, Deli. Hello, Andy. Hello, Gomer.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, Miss Carol...

CHANNING: (Singing) Hello, Dolly. Hello, Dolly.

MONDELLO: Though she never clicked in the movies, she does recount a film memory or two of her first on-screen smooch, for instance, with a kid named Clint Eastwood. But "Carol Channing: Larger Than Life" mostly concentrates on career highlights and personal moments. A happy reunion after seven decades with a childhood sweetheart gets lots of time, as does nostalgia for a brand of entertaining practiced by very few stars these days. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE")

CHANNING: (Singing) Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Oh, you remember. Thank you, you lovely people.

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