Barbara Cook has died. The Broadway actress, known for her roles in such iconic shows from “The Music Man” to “Candide,” was at her home in Manhattan, New York, surrounded by loved ones at the time of her passing, according to her publicist Amanda Kaus. Kaus added that Cook’s last meal was vanilla ice cream.
Cook’s cause of death was respiratory failure, according to her son. She was 89 years old.
Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen moving from the lungs through the blood. Since the human body’s organs need oxygen to function, respiratory failure can be fatal. A person suffering from respiratory failure can have symptoms similar to asthma (shortness of breath) or even more severe symptoms, like those suffering from suffocation (lips can turn blue).
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are various causes of respiratory failure. Some examples given by the organization include muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injuries, stroke, scoliosis, drug or alcohol overdose, or a lung disease or condition such as such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or pneumonia.
Cook rose to fame in the 1950s when she became a Broadway star. She is best known, perhaps, for the song “Glitter and Be Gay,” from the musical “Candide,” which hit the stage in 1956. The following year, Cook won a Tony Award for her role as Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man.”
According to the Star Tribune, Cook’s career took a backseat in the 1960s when she struggled with “alcoholism and weight gain.” She gave up drinking in the 70s, but not before she hit “rock bottom.” She discusses this in her memoir, Then And Now, which was released last year. There had been a show planned around the memoir, but it was scrapped before making it to the stage, according to the New York Post.
Cook is survived by her only child, son Adam LeGrant.