Good Night, Elaine Stritch, You Will Be Missed

The Broadway legend performed for the last time at a standing-room-only concert at New York City's Cafe Carlyle

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The O+M Company, Walter McBride / AP Photo

Elaine Stritch performing her final engagement at the Cafe Carlyle in New York with Rob Bowman at the piano

At 88 years old, the actress and Broadway icon Elaine Stritch has every right in the world to retire, but for those who have come to cherish her appearances at New York’s Café Caryle over the past decade, her decision still seems unfair. It was on that sliver of a stage that Stritch could truly let her artistry shine by just being who she was: a straight talking, brutally self aware realist who imbued every song she sang with an intensity that came from looking at life with both eyes open.

Admittedly there wasn’t much left of her voice these past years, but that mattered little. Stritch understood a lyric, and in a weathered voice shorn of tonal beauty but smacking of experience she revealed a song’s heart. She was angry and bitchy and funny and passionate in equal measure, and an evening with her at the Caryle was an experience none soon forgot. With Bobby Short gone and Stritch saying goodbye, the Café Caryle — and, consequently, old school New York nightlife — has lost a vital center. She will be missed.