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Carol Channing's Crusade to Save the Arts

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 30, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: I recently sat down with legendary entertainer and Broadway superstar, Carol Channing.

Now, her latest role is pursuing a personal mission close to the singer's heart. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: What a great honor it is to meet you. I got to tell you, I am a huge fan. I've been watching you for years. I just love you. I've read you're going to be 90 years old in January.

CAROL CHANNING, LEGENDARY ENTERTAINER: Yes, that's right.

HANNITY: How many years — because you are on Broadway, in the movies, and travel and the war — how many years did you do all this?

CHANNING: Oh, about 70 years, more. And I had some 10 shows on Broadway.

HANNITY: Unbelievable.

CHANNING: And then a grand hotels and all that sort of thing. And I never stopped working. So, that's good for us.

HANNITY: It is. I should never think about retiring.

CHANNING: Oh, no, please don't. Tell him not to retire. No. You mustn't do that because I agree with you.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: You just gave yourself up. I was going to protect you.

Weren't you married to a Democrat?

CHANNING: Yes.

HANNITY: Well, for how many years?

CHANNING: Forty-two years.

HANNITY: Well, that must have been hell. I mean, how hard was that?

CHANNING: No, because you're so busy — see, I was touring — I was 30 — over 30 years with "Hello Dolly."

HANNITY: Yes.

CHANNING: And as I say, 10 shows of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." I've — it just — it went on and on, and then interviews and things in between and all that. No, I just hardly saw him.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: What — when you're on stage for that many years, had you to love it, it's a passion.

CHANNING: Yes, I got stage fright every show.

HANNITY: Explain that.

CHANNING: Helen Hayes, the first lady of theater, I talked to her. She was a friend of mine. She came up to my hip, I said, "Boy, Helen this is agonizing, you can't be healthy if you keep getting this stage fright." She said, "Stage fright is God sent."

HANNITY: Why?

CHANNING: Because your brain goes, really you got — it makes it work. It feeds it. It's like fertilizer on the brain.

HANNITY: Is that right? So, when you say —

CHANNING: Yes. And so are the arts.

HANNITY: Yes.

CHANNING: You should know that. And people don't know that. They cut the arts out of school, am I stepping out before you?

HANNITY: No, no. Before you get to that — so when you say you got stage fright, how bad was it? I mean, did you —

CHANNING: It was sickening.

HANNITY: Did you get sick before shows?

CHANNING: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: You were throwing up in the bathroom?

CHANNING: Yes, yes, all of that.

HANNITY: Really? All the time?

CHANNING: (INAUDIBLE) threw up before — he was suave on stage and all that. It's —

HANNITY: And you never — it never got better?

CHANNING: This could be the audience that doesn't get it. They don't understand how fabulous this show is. They might not see that this author has written something worth putting every bit of creative energy into it.

HANNITY: And in 70 years, did it ever happen? That the audience didn't get it? No, you —

CHANNING: Yes.

HANNITY: Really? So, was that hard on you? Did you take that to heart? Was that hard on you?

CHANNING: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: I've been — I've been protested and booed. I just deal with that. I'd just, all right, too bad.

CHANNING: Well, sometimes they get quiet. That's what they do.

HANNITY: You're promoting — you believe in the arts. And you're upset that we —

CHANNING: I believe in the arts.

HANNITY: Yes.

CHANNING: They are so necessary. My gosh, they've cut all the arts out of school.

I not only believe in the arts — Winston Churchill during the war when Roosevelt refused to send him money and all that, he's — a general stood up with Winston in the audience and he said, "We've got to cut out everything that isn't an absolute necessity and we'll start with the arts."

Churchill stood up and said, "Then what are we fighting for?"

And that's absolutely true, isn't it?

HANNITY: Look, here's my take on it. Maybe we have a little difference of opinion is, I believe in the free market. And here's — I don't think the arts are going away because there is a demand.

CHANNING: They're gone. They're gone.

Do you know in poor districts, half of the student body has dropped out?

There are half —

HANNITY: They can't read and write some of these kids when they graduate.

CHANNING: They can't. They can't. No, they can't. And they are miserable. And graffiti is a means of expression.

HANNITY: The kids they can't read, they can't write. The arts to a lot of kids today is heavy metal music, with the horrible lyrics.

CHANNING: They asked me —

HANNITY: And the same with rap music, some of it is pretty bad.

CHANNING: They say, what's a concert, Carol?

HANNITY: Well, watching you is a concert.

CHANNING: No, it's — well, yes — well — but they can't — they don't know. They never saw a show.

HANNITY: They don't know.

CHANNITY: They don't know. They don't do shows.

All of the arts, a man wrote a song for me and of the end of it was — he's a truck driver from Gallo Wines and I live in Modesto, California, they love you in Modesto.

But, any way, he — he said, this guy says, oh, he wrote [signing] the curtain must rise, so strike up the chorus, yes, it's a fact you'll find the arts expand the mind.

In science, history, English, math, biology, zoology, and even sociology, psychology, mythology, and also genealogy, pomposity, verbosity, I'm losing my velocity. But down and dirty, we're less free, let's keep the arts alive!

HANNITY: You sold me.

CHANNING: Did I?

HANNITY: You sold — I'm done, I'm done.

CHANNING: No, they — they're bored stiff with school.

HANNITY: I know. I was bored stiff in school. I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

CHANNING: And we had arts during the Deep Depression era and we had it very much in (INAUDIBLE) junior high. And, do you know — we graduate - - I'm not smart. But it was fertilizer on my brain. And he graduates —

HANNITY: And you are smart. You're very smart.

CHANNING: About math and human biology?

HANNITY: No. I don't know any — I know nothing about human biology, just for the record.

CHANNING: You got very far without it.

(LAUGHTER)

CHANNING: Well then I wouldn't worry about it.

HANNITY: Carol Channing, it's been a great honor. God bless you. And it's so good to see you. It's an honor to meet you. And I'm so glad you can come.

CHANNING: An honor to meet you.

HANNITY: You are terrific.

CHANNING: Yes, but we got — we need — we got this foundation. I mean, I hope I didn't ruin any —

HANNITY: We'll put it up — we'll put it up on the screen and we're going to be having —

CHANNING: Oh, you will?

HANNITY: Yes, of course.

CHANNING: Oh, thank you, dear.

HANNITY: All right. Thank you, Carol. Good to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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