Skip to page content

Joel Grey

About this Artist

With his role as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the hit Broadway musical Wicked, JOEL GREY recently celebrated 50 years on the New York stage - from performances at the legendary Copacabana on East 60th Street to The Palace on Broadway, from the Public Theatre downtown to Lincoln Center uptown. In a career that was launched in the early 1950s (although his theatrical debut was at age 9 as Pud in the 1941 Cleveland Playhouse production of On Borrowed Time), Grey has created indelible stage roles each decade since: as the iconic M.C. in Cabaret (1966, Tony Award), as song and dance man George M. Cohan in George M! (1967, Tony nomination), as Charley VII in Goodtime Charlie (1975, Tony nomination), as Jacobowsky in The Grand Tour (1979, Tony nomination), as Olim in New York City Opera's Silverlake (1981), as Amos Hart in the landmark revival of Chicago (1996), and in Wicked (2004) - his fourth smash Broadway show.

Born Joel David Katz, April 11, 1932, Joel Grey has won acclaim in virtually every medium of entertainment: stage, screen, recording, concerts and television. It was at age 16 that Grey appeared in his father's (the comedian Mickey Katz) revue, where he was discovered by Eddie Cantor, who introduced young Joel on his television show "The Colgate Comedy Hour."

Following a sensational debut in Cabaret, Grey recreated his role in the 1972 film version (directed by Bob Fosse), for which he received the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the British Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Grey also reprised his role once again under Hal Prince's direction for the 20th-anniversary Broadway production (1987), followed by a cross-country national tour.

Joel Grey's dramatic stage roles include the American Repertory Theatre's production of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken (1991) at the Sao Paulo Biennale, directed by Robert Wilson, and the Roundabout Theatre production of Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! (1999), for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

In addition to Cabaret, Grey's film credits include Frank Perry's Man on A Swing (1974); Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976); Herbert Ross' The Seven Percent Solution (1976); Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, Golden Globe Nomination); Steven Soderbergh's Kafka (1991); Altman's The Player (1992); Phillip Haas' The Music of Chance (1993); Michael Ritchie's adaptation of The Fantasticks (2000); and Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000) with Bjork and Catherine Deneuve.

His television work includes an Emmy Award-nominated appearance on CBS-TV's Brooklyn Bridge, the final six episodes of the HBO series Oz, NBC's Law and Order: Criminal Intent, the ABC series Alias, and a guest-starring turn on Crossing Jordan.

Joel Grey is one of only eight actors to have won both the Tony and Academy award for the same role. In 1984, he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and he has received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also the recipient of the Distinguished Artist Award from the Los Angeles Music Center. In 1993, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis presented Joel with the Municipal Arts Society medal naming him a Living New York Landmark.

Joel is the father of Jennifer and James and the grandfather of Stella.