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Carol Channing's stage costume is found, returned

The glittery $150,000 dress is discovered in a park a day after being stolen from her hotel.

September 16, 2007|Carla Hall | Times Staff Writer

One day after it was stolen, Carol Channing's famed vintage stage costume was found in a bag by a man in a Hollywood-area park, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman confirmed.

The 86-year-old Broadway and screen legend, who was scheduled to perform as a special guest at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend, was checking into the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel shortly after noon Thursday when a thief took a piece of her luggage off an unattended cart, according to police.

Inside the black rolling travel bag was a Bob Mackie rhinestone-encrusted dress valued at $150,000. Channing wore the form-fitting sparkly frock on Broadway as Lorelei Lee in the 1974 Broadway musical "Lorelei" when she sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." She had promised the dress to the Smithsonian Institution.

"She's a repeat guest and a Broadway and Hollywood icon. Our heads were spinning when we found out what happened," said Chris Orr, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. "We're just so grateful it's been returned and life can go back to normal."

On the day of the theft, the hotel provided police with a suite for media interviews -- "to get the word out as quickly as possible" Orr said -- and immediately turned over surveillance tapes which, according to police, revealed an African American male, about 6 feet tall, walking into the lobby and fleeing with the bag.

Orr said Channing was "very gracious. She obviously wanted the dress back, but she wasn't melodramatic about it. She wasn't placing blame."

The man who found the dress -- in a park near Franklin and Las Palmas avenues -- took it to Channing's hotel Friday. "My understanding is it was a homeless gentleman," said Orr, who was not there at the time.

Channing identified the dress and paused briefly for a photo with the man who found it before heading off to the Bowl, according to her publicist, Harlan Boll. Once the police officially clear the man of any connection to the theft, Boll said, he will be given a reward.

On Saturday, the dress had yet to make its way back into Channing's possession.

"It's still in police custody," said LAPD officer Norma Eisenman. "Once the investigation is completed, the dress shall be returned to Miss Channing."


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