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SAD NEWS: CLAIBORNE LEACHMAN CARY - 1932-2010

Cabaret performer Claiborne Cary, 78, passed away on Saturday, March 20, 2010 in Costa Mesa, California after suffering for several years with a form of Parkinsons disease. She moved there over three years ago as the desease progressed, to be cared for by her husband, and her son. For the last year and a half she was in a nursing home, where she passed away. Claiborne was born on February 17, 1932 in Lone Tree, Iowa to Berkeley Claiborne and Cloris Wallace Leachman. She was the youngest of three girls, Cloris, (Academy Award winning Actress) and Mary.

Claiborne made her Broadway debut in "Silk Stockings" and she also toured with the show along with Don Ameche. She also appeared in "New Girl in Town", for which she understudied Gwen Verdon. She was standby in George Furth's comedy "The Supporting Cast." Off-Broadway appearances include "Smiling the Boy Fell Dead" with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, "All Kinds of Giants" "Kukla, Burr and Ollie" and "Faith Hope and Charity" In stock she played lead roles in "Peter Pan", "No, No Nanette", "Sugar", "Sweet Charity" "Me and My Girl" and "Ballroom". 
 
We know Claiborne mostly for her cabaret performances. She performed at most of the rooms in New York City, having engagements at: The Algonquin, The Ballroom, The Russian Tea Room, Don't Tell Mama, Jan Walmans, Danny's and years back at The Living Room, the Duplex, and in Julius Monk's revue "Five Below Strikes Back" replacing Nancy Dussault. She also appeared in clubs all over the US in California and Chicago.
 
Critic James Gavin wrote: "Claiborne Cary, a petite blond with a clear, plaintive voice that touched the heart with such ballads as Stephen Sondheim's 'Anyone can Whistle'; 'Where's The Boy I Saved for A Rainy Day?', a superior torch song by Baldwin Bergersen. Cary's madcap mischievous comic sense was rare in someone so winsome and feminine. She brightened such chestnuts as 'The Trolley Song', Porter's 'At Long Last Love', Jerry Herman's 'If He Walked Into My Life' and many other well know ballads." 
 
Claiborne was the winner of two MAC Awards, one for solo performance and the other for as part of the cabaret revue "Grand Slam - the songs of Murray Grand". She also received a Bistro Award. She release two CDs, one titled "Now and Then", which consists of old recordings from her demo and some newer recorded with Bill Stritch, and the second, "Live at Danny's - Claiborne Cary"

Among her many TV credits are as a regular on "Young Dr. Kildare"; guest appearances on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", and the very popular "That Was The Week That Was" "Merv Griffin Show, and "Mike Douglas Show" as well as many of the drama series.

Claiborne is survived by her husband Charles Northrop, son Berkeley and his wife Christy and two granddaughters, Summer Northrop and Kylee Northrop; a sister, Cloris Leachman and her four children: Adam, Georgie, Morgan and Dinah; a sister Mary, who predeceased Claiborne, has three living children: Grant, Steven and Leslie Castle. Also, cousins, nieces and nephews.
 
This obituary was prepared by Maryann Lopinto, a good friend of Ms. Cary while she lived in NYC, and who kept in contact with her often after she moved west.

 

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