#RespectYourElders: Barbara Cook (born 1927), a Tony-award winning actress, recently published a memoir about her life titled “Then & Now.”
Cook is best known for her performances in the original productions of Broadway musicals “Plain and Fancy” (1955), “Candide” (1956) and “The Music Man” (1957). Cook, a soprano, won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in “The Music Man.”
Cook was born in the Atlanta area during Great Depression era, the struggles of which she details in her memoir. But in an interview with National Public Radio, she says her earliest memories were of singing. Cook eventually made her way to Manhattan in the late 1940s, where she began performing at clubs and resorts before her eventual Broadway debut in “Flahooley” in 1951.
After starring in “The Music Man,” Cook struggled with depression and addiction, but she made a comeback to the stage as a cabaret singer. Her successful second-act career as a concert performer has lasted for three decades. She has been nominated and won several awards for her solo performances, including a Drama Desk Award in 1987. Her most recent tribute was as a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2011, in recognition of her lifetime contribution to American culture through performing arts.