Ask any octogenarian: The great thing – maybe the only great thing – about reaching your eighth decade is the right to say whatever you want, wherever you want, and be damned the consequences.
Case in point: Broadway veteran and TV star Elaine Stritch, who turned 89 two weeks ago, is not the least bit concerned by the fact that she blurted the F-word on the Today show on Tuesday morning.
And the truly bizarre part: Stritch was actually goaded into dropping the F-bomb.
In the clip, Today host Kathie Lee Gifford gushes effusively over the acting legend, best known for her stage turns in Broadway productions of Company and her 2001 Tony Award-winning one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty.
More recently, Stritch essayed her fearsome presence into a recurring guest role as Alec Baldwin's mother on 30 Rock.
"Elaine, you are so beloved," said Gifford. "As much for your work, but for your mouth. You know, you say whatever you want to say. Whenever did that all happen?"
The wheelchair-bound Stritch, who was on the program to promote her biographical documentary Shoot Me, and wore a fur coat, fur hat, leather gloves and sneakers (which she propped on Gifford's lap) for the occasion, responded with a rambling diatribe that included her saying, "If you just say things naturally, it's fine!"
And then Stritch added the kicker: "You know, they're just thinking f–k."
The fact Stritch's response made little sense was irrelevant; the fact she said the F-word on live television was most unexpected.
Naturally, the Today hosts were shocked. Gifford immediately responded with "Oh, dear. Oh, dear." Co-host Hoda Kotb held her nose.
Within hours of the broadcast, the clip of Stritch cussing went viral. A cheeky Vine video loop of the moment immediately became the most popular item on Vulture.com.
And against all probable odds, the conclusion of the Today sitdown with Stritch was equally entertaining, if slightly less profane.
Stritch announced that there was a famous showbiz line that was left unsaid in the Shoot Me profile. Unfortunately, she spent so much time setting up the line that Gifford had to prompt her to get moving with the story, telling the actress, "We have 10 seconds left!"
Which naturally prompted Stritch to bark at the hosts, "You are not getting the last line in this morning's show!"
Stritch then kept telling the story her own way until she was cut off mid-sentence by a commercial break.
But this tough old trooper wasn't finished. And as things turned out, she did get the last line.
Later in the day, Stritch logged onto Twitter later in the day to post a picture of her posing with Gifford and Kotb, with the caption, "LOVE these broads, but no F'ING way they get the last word on the show."
And for her curtain call a few hours later, Stritch begged off a Film Society Lincoln Center event by tweeting, "Sorry gang to miss tonight's event, but as you heard I'm f***ng exhausted from all the media hoo-ha. Please forgive me!"
And that, my dears, is how a real Broadway star closes a show.