Harvey Fierstein was born on June 6, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Independence Day (1996), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Mulan (1998).
Trade Mark (1)
Gruff, yet soft, voice
Has won four Tony Awards from only four nominations: two in 1983, as Best Actor (Play) and Author of Best Play for "Torch Song Trilogy," a performance he recreated in the film version of the same title, Torch Song Trilogy (1988); a third in 1984, the Book (Musical) Tony for writing the libretto of "La Cage aux Folles;" and the fourth in 2003, as Best Actor (Musical) in the Divine role of Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray." These four awards tie him with Tommy Tune for the most Tony Awards in different categories.
The essence of Fierstein's landmark "Torch Song Trilogy" (1988) was autobiographical, since he began performing as a drag queen in Manhattan clubs as early as age 15.
Was known only for playing drag roles Off-Off Broadway (often in plays he wrote himself) until he played his first male role in Robert Patrick III's "The Haunted Host" in Boston. The play was such a personal success for him that when he had to leave the show for four days for his father's funeral, the show closed.
Won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at the 2003 Tony Awards for his role in the play "Hairspay".
With his Tony Award win for "Hairspray", along with his three previous wins, he ties with Tommy Tune for most Tony Awards for different categories.
In the 2003 New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade, he was Mrs. Claus, dressed in drag.
Following a severe bout of depression following the break up with a lover, Fierstein wrote about the painful experience and the end result was "The International Stud", which was produced at the Theater for the New City in 1976 (later at La MaMa in 1978) with Fierstein introducing and starring as his Arnold Beckoff character, a gay man whose bisexual lover dumps him for a female. Fierstein went on to write two more plays about Arnold and introduced "Fugue in a Nursery" and "Widows and Children First!", in 1979 at La MaMa, with Fierstein again playing the lead. Eventually Fierstein integrated the three Arnold plays into a single play, "Torch Song Trilogy", which was first presented off-off-Broadway in 1981, and the rest is history.
Playing Tevye in the latest revival of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre, succeeding Alfred Molina. [January 2005]
His trademark voice is the result of over-developed ventricular folds in his throat, which produce a hoarse-sounding double voice.
Personal Quotes (7)
Beware of anyone who says they know. Trust me, they don't, or they wouldn't have to say they did.
Always admit when you're wrong. You'll save thousands in therapy...and a few friendships too.
The great thing about suicide is that it's not one of those things you have to do now or you lose your chance. I mean, you can always do it later.
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.
[re Torch Song Trilogy (1988)] I'm happy that we made it. Is it everything I wanted it to be? Is anything ever? I fought with [director] Paul Bogart because I had based the entire third act on a song by Big Maybelle. When we went to make the movie, Paul refused to put it in the movie. We used a beautiful Ella Fitzgerald recording of "This Time the Dream's on Me," which is very pretty, but it doesn't have that emotion. But to Paul, it did. It's life. I really am a theater person. That means you put something out there, and you let it go. Tomorrow night is a new performance.
[on Robin Williams] Robin was friend, boss, brother, inspiration. His generosity and intelligence knew no limits. Only his home planet could destroy him.
Actually, I think the average voice is like 70 percent tone and 30 percent noise. My voice is 95 percent noise.