Grey, Joel, 1932-....Alternative names
Singer and entertainer.
From the description of Autograph on leaf from program for A doll's life, a new musical, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Larry Grossman, 1982. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270914762
Joel Grey was born Joel David Katz on April 11, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio. His father Mickey Katz was a musician and comedian, well-known for his parody songs and routines, usually written for a Jewish audience, sometimes in Yiddish. Joel Grey began his career in his father's shows, as a child actor.
Grey spent the 1950s appearing in stock productions and two Broadway revues, Borscht Capades (1951) and The Littlest Revue (1956). He also had roles in a few film and television projects. In the early 1960s he moved up to replacing a lead role on Broadway in the Neil Simon comedy, Come Blow Your Horn. His next job was replacing Anthony Newley in Stop the World--I Want to Get Off! Grey also replaced Newley in his next star vehicle, The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd, this time on tour though. He also replaced Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence on Broadway.
At this point in his career, it was clear that Grey could carry a show, but he was growing impatient of replacement gigs and dreaming of originating his own starring role. This opportunity came in the form of a new musical written by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff and directed by Harold Prince, based on John Van Druten's play I am a Camera, which had been based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories. The show was Cabaret and Grey was cast as the Master of Ceremonies, a role which made him a star and won him the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. When Bob Fosse directed the film version of Cabaret in 1972, Grey re-created his role and won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, joining a select group of nine actors who have won the Tony and the Oscar for the same role.
After Cabaret, Grey had no trouble getting starring roles in new musicals, and he followed it with George M!, (1968) a musical biography of the legendary performer and song-writer George M. Cohan. In the 1970s he starred in two more musicals. Goodtime Charley, by Larry Grossman, Hal Hackaday and Sidney Michaels, was an original musical based on the Joan of Arc legend starring Grey as the Dauphin and Ann Reinking as Joan. Grey's next show was Jerry Herman's The Grand Tour, based on Franz Werfel and S. N. Berman's play Jacobowsky and the Colonel. Though the show only had a short run, Grey's nuanced and sensitive performance was universally praised.
In the 1980s Grey took a chance by breaking away from his song and dance man image to tackle a challenging role in a controversial new play when he was cast as the highly strung whistle blower Ned Weeks in Larry Kramer's harrowing drama about AIDS, The Normal Heart (1985) which played off-Broadway at The Public Theater. He also starred in a revival of Cabaret in 1987.
In 1996 Grey appeared in a revival of another Kander and Ebb show, Chicago, in the City Center Encores! Series, on Broadway and in London. Grey played Amos Hart opposite his Goodtime Charley co-star Ann Reinking. In 2003 he originated the role of The Wizard of Oz in Wicked. In 2011, he appeared as Moonface Martin in a revival of Anything Goes and directed the first Broadway production of The Normal Heart, for which he won the Tony as Best Director of a Play.
Throughout his theatre career, Grey has continued to appear regularly in various films and television series.
Grey was married to actress Jo Wilder from 1958 to 1982. They have two children, a son, James and Actress Jennifer Grey.
From the guide to the Joel Grey papers, 1904-2001, 1949-2001, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)
- Theater--New York (State)--New York