Rita McKenzie, Star Of The Longest-Running One-Woman Show In Theatrical History, Dies At 76


Mariane Angela Contributor
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Iconic performer Rita McKenzie passed away Saturday in Los Angeles, Deadline reported.

McKenzie died just a few days shy of her 77th birthday after a long battle with illness, according to the outlet. McKenzie left a significant mark on the theatrical landscape. Her groundbreaking 1988 performance in “Ethel Merman’s Broadway” off-Broadway solidified her place in history as the performer behind the longest-running one-woman show, according to Deadline. Her versatile career saw her take up a myriad of roles across the country.

McKenzie gained critical acclaim for her portrayal of Lita Encore in the Los Angeles premiere of “Ruthless! The Musical.” Her talent shone once again when she reprised the role for the New York revival, Deadline reported.

McKenzie’s versatility as an actress was evident in her numerous stage roles, including performances as Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes!”, Rose in “Gypsy” and a three-year national tour of Neil Simon’s “The Female Odd Couple,” in which she starred alongside Barbara Eden. (RELATED: Pamela Anderson Dominates On Broadway)

McKenzie also opened for entertainment legends such as Milton Berle, Don Knotts and Steve Allen. Her acting prowess led to performances in the Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Baltimore Pops, the outlet reported. In 1995, she delivered the finale at PBS’s “A Capital Fourth” celebration in Washington, D.C.

McKenzie’s screen presence was equally compelling, with featured roles in “The Brady Bunch: The Final Days,” “Caroline In the City” and “Frasier.” She also appeared in the film “Meet Wally Sparks” and the TV series “Big Brother Jake.”

One of her final contributions to the arts was as an associate producer for the pre-Broadway tour of “All Things Equal: The Life and Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” penned by Rupert Holmes, according to Deadline.