Cook died Tuesday at age 89. Like Glen Campbell, who died on the same day, she overcame addictions and debilitating disease to refashion her career, performing to near the end of her life.
A native of Atlanta, Cook first made her mark on Broadway as a young ingenue, starring with Robert Preston in Meredith Wilson's 1957 blockbuster "The Music Man." Playing the straitlaced librarian Marian, Cook delivered one of the all-time great showstoppers, "Till There Was You."
Alcoholism, depression and obesity ended her theatrical career, her obituary in The New York Times said. With the support of pianist Wally Harper, she rebounded for a 30-year career interpreting American songbook classics on New York's cabaret circuit. Longtime Times cabaret reporter Stephen Holden, one of the newspaper's treasures, said in an appreciation that Cook raised the joy of living for her audiences.
Cook was also known for her master classes in singing for young Broadway aspirants. An exacting mentor, she advised her students to not seek perfection. More important was passion, giving full commitment to every note. She always did.