Harvey Forbes Fierstein (/ˈfaɪərˌstiːn/ FIRE-steen; born June 6, 1954) is an American actor, playwright, and voice actor. Fierstein has won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his own play Torch Song Trilogy (about a gay drag-performer and his quest for true love and family) and the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. He also wrote the book for the musical La Cage aux Folles, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, and wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2007.
Fierstein at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere
Harvey Forbes Fierstein
June 6, 1954
|Occupation||Actor, playwright, voice actor|
Fierstein was born to Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jacqueline Harriet (née Gilbert), a school librarian, and Irving Fierstein, a handkerchief manufacturer. Fierstein is an atheist.
Fierstein occasionally writes columns about gay issues. He was openly gay at a time when very few celebrities were. His careers as a stand-up comic and female impersonator are mostly behind him. Fierstein resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Fierstein's signature gravelly voice is a result of an overdeveloped vestibular fold in his vocal cords, essentially giving him a "double voice" when he speaks. Prior to puberty, Fierstein was a soprano in a professional boys' choir.
The gravel-voiced actor is best known for the play and film Torch Song Trilogy, which he wrote and starred in both Off-Broadway (with a young Matthew Broderick) and on Broadway (with Estelle Getty and Fisher Stevens). The 1982 Broadway production won him two Tony Awards, for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play, two Drama Desk Awards, for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Actor in a Play, and the Theatre World Award, and the film adaptation earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination as Best Male Lead.
Fierstein also wrote the book for La Cage aux Folles (1983), winning another Tony Award, this time for Best Book of a Musical, and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Book. Legs Diamond, his 1988 collaboration with Peter Allen, was a critical and commercial failure, closing after 72 previews and 64 performances. His other playwriting credits include Safe Sex, Spookhouse, and Forget Him.
In 2007, Fierstein wrote the book to the musical A Catered Affair in which he also starred. After tryouts at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre in September 2007, it opened on Broadway April 17, 2008 and closed on July 27, 2008. He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the show won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical.
Fierstein wrote the book for the stage musical Newsies, along with Alan Menken (music) and Jack Feldman (lyrics). The musical opened on Broadway in March 2012. Fierstein was nominated for the Tony Award for Book of a Musical.
Fierstein wrote the book for a stage musical version of the film Kinky Boots with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. After a fall 2012 run at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago it opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway in April 2013. The musical was nominated for thirteen 2013 Tony Awards and won six, including best musical.
His play, Casa Valentina was produced on Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The play opened in April 2014 and closed in June 2014. It was directed by Joe Mantello, with a cast that featured Patrick Page as George/Valentina, John Cullum and Mare Winningham.
Fierstein wrote the teleplay for The Wiz Live! NBC TV broadcast on December 3, 2015, featuring Stephanie Mills, as Aunt Em, Queen Latifah as The Wiz and David Alan Grier as the Lion. The teleplay is an adaptation of The Wiz Broadway production which ran from October 1974 until January 1979.
As one of the first openly gay celebrities in the United States, Fierstein helped make gay and lesbian life into viable subjects for contemporary drama "with no apologies and no climactic suicides".
Fierstein made his acting debut at La MaMa, E.T.C. in Andy Warhol's only play, Pork. Fierstein continued to appear at La MaMa and other venues but also, having some aspirations to become a painter, enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Pratt in 1973. Fierstein appeared three times in "The Haunted Host" by Robert Patrick: in Boston in 1975, and at La MaMa and then Off-Broadway in 1991. In addition to Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and A Catered Affair, Fierstein's Broadway acting credits include playing the mother, Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (2002), for which he won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. He later replaced Alfred Molina as Tevye in the 2004 revival of Fiddler on the Roof.
Besides his leading role in the film version of Torch Song Trilogy co-starring Matthew Broderick and Anne Bancroft, Fierstein's film roles include Woody Allen's Bullets over Broadway, Robin Williams's character's makeup-artist brother in Mrs. Doubtfire, and Merv Green in Death to Smoochy, in addition to parts in Garbo Talks, Duplex, Kull the Conqueror, and Independence Day. He narrated the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, for which he won a News & Documentary Emmy Award. He also voiced the role of Yao in Disney's animated feature Mulan, a role he later reprised for the video game Kingdom Hearts II and the direct-to-DVD sequel Mulan II.
On television, Fierstein was featured as the voice of Karl, Homer Simpson's assistant, in the "Simpson and Delilah" episode of The Simpsons and the voice of Elmer in the 1999 HBO special based on his children's book The Sissy Duckling, which won the Humanitas Prize for Children's Animation. In 1994, Fierstein became the first openly gay actor to play a principal gay character in a television series when he appeared as fashion designer Dennis Sinclair in the short-lived CBS series Daddy's Girls. Additional credits include Miami Vice, Murder, She Wrote, the Showtime television movie Common Ground (which he also wrote), and Cheers, which earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He sang a tribute to Katie Couric on Today on May 31, 2006, her last day as anchor. He appeared as Heat Miser in the live-action remake of The Year Without a Santa Claus in December 2006. More recent television performances include an episode of Family Guy, in which he played an overweight, chainsmoking mother and an episode of the second season of the series Nurse Jackie in which he played a man whose husband is dying. He also gave the voice-over for Lily in the "Last Cigarette Ever" episode of How I Met Your Mother when she gets a sore throat due to smoking.
Fierstein returned to the theatre when he reprised the role of Tevye, replacing an injured Chaim Topol, in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof starting in December 2009. On February 15, 2011, he replaced Douglas Hodge as Albin/Zaza in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles playing opposite Jeffrey Tambor who plays Georges, although days later Tambor pulled out, which the producers have stated was due to "complications from a recent hip surgery"; Christopher Sieber quickly replaced Tambor. The show closed on May 1, 2011 due to low box office; it played 433 performances and 15 previews.
|1982||New York Drama Critics' Circle||Best American Play||Torch Song Trilogy||Nominated|
|1983||Tony Award||Best Play||Won|
|Best Actor in a Play||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Play||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Play||Won|
|Theatre World Award||Theatre World Award||Won|
|1984||Tony Award||Best Book of a Musical||La Cage aux Folles||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Book of a Musical||Nominated|
|1992||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series||Cheers||Nominated|
|2003||Tony Award||Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Hairspray||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Won|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Outstanding Performance||Won|
|2008||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Book of a Musical||A Catered Affair||Nominated|
|2012||Tony Award||Best Book of a Musical||Newsies||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Book of a Musical||Nominated|
|2013||Tony Award||Best Book of a Musical||Kinky Boots||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Book of a Musical||Nominated|
|2014||Tony Award||Best Play||Casa Valentina||Nominated|
I mean, I don't believe in God, I don't believe in heaven or hell, but I pray three or four times a day.
The article is about the stage musical. For the 1956 film, see The Catered Affair.A Catered Affair is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by John Bucchino. It is based on both the 1956 film The Catered Affair written by Gore Vidal and the original 1955 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky, set in 1953 in the Bronx. This is the first of Bucchino's scores produced on Broadway.Casa Valentina
Casa Valentina is a play written by Harvey Fierstein which premiered on Broadway in April 2014 and opened in London in September 2015. It tells the story of men who spend weekends at a resort in the Catskill mountains, dressed as women.Common Ground (2000 film)
Common Ground is a 2000 Showtime television film directed by Donna Deitch and written by Paula Vogel, Terrence McNally and Harvey Fierstein.Drama Desk Award
The Drama Desk Awards are presented annually and were first awarded in 1955 to recognize excellence in New York theatre productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway productions were excluded until the 1968–69 award season. The awards are considered a significant American theater distinction.Hairspray (2002 album)
Hairspray: Original Broadway Cast Recording is the cast album for the 2002 musical Hairspray. The show is an adaptation of the 1988 film of the same name. It features performances from the show's cast, which includes Harvey Fierstein, Linda Hart, Dick Latessa, Kerry Butler, Clarke Thorell, Mary Bond Davis, Laura Bell Bundy, Matthew Morrison, Corey Reynolds, and Marissa Jaret Winokur as the lead character of Tracy Turnblad. The cast recording earned the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.Hairspray Live!
Hairspray Live! is a television special that aired live on NBC on December 7, 2016. Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and hosted by Darren Criss, it is a performance of a new adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical Hairspray.Katrina Rose Dideriksen
Katrina Rose Dideriksen (born May 25, 1983) is an actress originally from North Carolina. She lived in Durham, North Carolina, as a child and attended Durham School of the Arts in high school. She later studied at New York University Steinhardt School of Education before attending an open call for the musical Hairspray. After winning over the producers, Dideriksen was first sent to the Toronto Hairspray cast and then joined the touring company. Dideriksen originated the role of Tracy for The Luxor production of Hairspray in Las Vegas opposite Harvey Fierstein. She played Tracy until the Vegas show closed in June 2006. She has also starred in Hairspray in Pittsburgh and Houston, as well as revisited the Standby position on Broadway. She performed as Shawntel and Eve in the Carnegie Hall performance of Jerry Springer: The Opera, in the GLSEN benefit performance of Zanna, Don't! as Roberta, in Stained at Ars Nova and in Bernice Bobs Her Mullet in the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
More recently, Dideriksen was Mimi in Rent opposite Justin Guarini at Surflight Theatre, Rizzo in Grease opposite Marc Summers, and a Swing in the off-Broadway production of Rent.Dideriksen is a consistent member of Joe Iconis' musical "family", performing in numerous concerts and shows such as Things to Ruin and Bloodsong of Love: The Rock N Roll Spaghetti Western.She can be heard on the cast recording of Things to Ruin: The Songs of Joe Iconis, released by Sh-K-Boom Records. She also appeared in MC Frontalot's third album, Final Boss on the track "Socks On", as well as on his fifth album Solved on the tracks "Front the Least" and the title track "Solved".La Cage aux Folles (play)
La Cage aux Folles (French pronunciation: [la kaʒ o fɔl]) is a 1973 French farce by Jean Poiret centering on confusion that ensues when Laurent, the son of a Saint Tropez night club owner and his gay lover, brings his fiancée's ultraconservative parents for dinner. The original French production premièred at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 1 February 1973 and ran for almost 1,800 performances. The principal roles were played by Jean Poiret and Michel Serrault. A French-Italian film of the play was made in 1978 (with two sequels La Cage aux Folles II (1980), directed by Édouard Molinaro and La Cage aux Folles 3: 'Elles' se marient (1985), directed by Georges Lautner.) In 1983, Poiret's play was adapted in the United States as a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and later remade as the American film The Birdcage.Legs Diamond (musical)
Legs Diamond is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and Charles Suppon based on the Warner Brothers film The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), with a screenplay by Joseph Landon. The music and lyrics are by Peter Allen.
The Almost Totally Fictitious Musical History of Legs Diamond follows the travails of its title character, a Depression-era mobster who wants to break into show business.Newsies (musical)
Newsies The Musical is a musical based on the 1992 musical film Newsies, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. The show has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein based on film's screenplay by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 and made its Broadway debut in 2012, where it played for more than 1,000 performances before touring.Playing Mona Lisa
Playing Mona Lisa is a 2000 comedy film directed by Matthew Huffman and starring Alicia Witt, Harvey Fierstein, Johnny Galecki, Elliott Gould, Marlo Thomas, Molly Hagan and Brooke Langton. It is based on a play by Marni Freedman.Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 1988–1989
The following is a list of recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced between October 8, 1988, and May 20, 1989, the fourteenth season of SNL.Simpson and Delilah
"Simpson and Delilah" is the second episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 18, 1990. Homer uses the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant medical insurance plan to buy 'Dimoxinil', a miracle hair growth formula. Homer grows hair, and is given a promotion at work which allows him to hire a secretary named Karl. The episode was directed by Rich Moore and written by Jon Vitti, and guest starred Harvey Fierstein as Karl.The Former Life of Brian
"The Former Life of Brian" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of Family Guy. It was originally broadcast on April 27, 2008. The episode follows the Griffins' anthropomorphic dog, Brian (Seth MacFarlane), as he discovers that he is the father of a 13-year-old boy named Dylan (Seth Green). Dylan's mother, Tracy (Harvey Fierstein), leaves him with Brian after they meet and Dylan starts causing mischief at the Griffin's house.
The episode was written by Steve Callaghan and it was directed by Pete Michels. The episode guest starred Harvey Fierstein, Chace Crawford, Erinn Hayes and Max Burkholder. Recurring voice actors Patrick Warburton, writer Alec Sulkin, episode writer Steve Callaghan, writer John Viener and show creator Seth MacFarlane's sister Rachael MacFarlane made minor appearances. It received mixed reviews from critics.The Sissy Duckling
The Sissy Duckling is a children's picture book written by actor Harvey Fierstein and illustrated by Henry Cole. It is 40 pages long and intended for children ages 5–8.It follows the story of Elmer, a duckling who is mocked for being a "sissy" but who ultimately proves his bravery. It was made into an HBO children's special in 1999 three years before the book was released, with Fierstein as the voice of Elmer the Duckling. The special was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Individual Episode.The Times of Harvey Milk
The Times of Harvey Milk is a 1984 American documentary film that premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and then on November 1, 1984 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The film was directed by Rob Epstein, produced by Richard Schmiechen, and narrated by Harvey Fierstein, with an original score by Mark Isham.
In 2012, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
The Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical is awarded to librettists of the spoken, non-sung dialogue, and storyline of a musical play. Eligibility is restricted to works with original narrative framework; plotless revues and revivals are ineligible. This award was originally called the Tony Award for Best Author, until musicals were split off from dramas.Torch Song Trilogy
Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love.Torch Song Trilogy (film)
Torch Song Trilogy is a 1988 American comedy-drama film adapted by Harvey Fierstein from his play of the same name.The film was directed by Paul Bogart and stars Fierstein as Arnold, Anne Bancroft as Ma Beckoff, Matthew Broderick as Alan, Brian Kerwin as Ed, and Eddie Castrodad as David. Executive Producer Ronald K. Fierstein is Harvey Fierstein's brother.
Wanting to highlight the work of female impersonator Charles Pierce, Fierstein created the role of Bertha Venation specifically for him. Broderick originally refused the role of Alan because he was recuperating from an automobile accident in Ireland. Tate Donovan was cast, but two days into the rehearsal period Broderick had a change of heart and contacted Fierstein, who fired Donovan.
Although the play was over four hours, the film was restricted to a running time of two hours at the insistence of New Line Cinema, necessitating much editing and excisions. The time frame was regressed to begin several years earlier than when the play was set.
Awards for Harvey Fierstein