Joel Grey

Joel Grey

Grey in 1993
Born Joel David Katz
(1932-04-11) April 11, 1932
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Occupation Actor, dancer, singer, photographer
Years active 1951–present
Spouse(s) Jo Wilder (1958–1982; divorced)
Children Jennifer Grey
James Katz

Joel Grey (born Joel David Katz; April 11, 1932) is an American actor, singer, dancer, and photographer. He is best known for portraying the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film versions of the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret. He has won the Academy Award, Tony Award, and Golden Globe Award.

He also originated the role of George M. Cohan in the musical George M! in 1973, and the Wizard of Oz in the musical Wicked. He also starred as Moonface Martin in the Broadway revivals of Anything Goes, and as Amos Hart in Chicago.

Early life

Grey was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Goldie "Grace" (née Epstein) and Mickey Katz, a Jewish actor, comedian, and musician.[1][2][3] He started his career in the Cleveland Play House's Curtain Pullers children's theatre program in the early 1940s, appearing in productions such as Grandmother Slyboots, Jack of Tarts and a lead role in their mainstage production of On Borrowed Time.[4][5] He attended Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, California.[6]


Grey originated the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the Broadway musical Cabaret in 1966 for which he won the Tony Award. Additional Broadway credits include Come Blow Your Horn (1961), Stop the World - I Want to Get Off (1962), Half a Sixpence (1965), George M! (1968), Goodtime Charley (1975), The Grand Tour (1979), Chicago (1996), Wicked (2003), and Anything Goes (2011).[7] In November 1995, he performed as the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a staged concert of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT) in November 1995, and released on CD and video in 1996.[8]

Grey won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in March 1973 for his performance as the Master of Ceremonies in the 1972 film version of Cabaret.[9] His victory was part of a Cabaret near-sweep, which saw Liza Minnelli win Best Actress and Bob Fosse win Best Director, although it lost the Best Picture Oscar to The Godfather.[10] For that role, Grey also won the BAFTA award for "The Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles" and Best Supporting Actor awards from the Golden Globes, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, National Society of Film Critics,[9] and a Tony Award for his original stage performance six years prior, making him one of only eight people who have won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the same role.[11]

He has performed at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri in roles such as George M. Cohan in George M! (1970 and 1992),[12] the Emcee in Cabaret (1971), and Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1983).[1] At the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Grey played the title role in their production of Platonov (1977).

Grey appeared as a panelist for the television game show What's My Line? in the 1967 season, as well as being the first mystery guest during its syndication in 1968. He was the guest star for the third episode of The Muppet Show in its first season in 1976, singing "Razzle Dazzle" from Chicago and "Willkommen" from Cabaret. He also played Master of Sinanju Chiun, Remo's elderly Korean martial arts master in the movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), a role that garnered him a Saturn Award and a second Golden Globe nomination for "Best Supporting Actor". Chiun's character was popular for the lines "Meat of cow kills", and "You move like a pregnant yak", from the movie. In 1991, he played Adam, a devil, in the final episode of the television series Dallas (1991).[13] That same year, Grey also appeared in the American Repertory Theatre's production of When We Dead Awaken at the Sao Paulo Biennale. In 1993 he starred in New York Stage & Film's production of John Patrick Shanley's A Fool and Her Fortune and received an "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series" Emmy nomination for his recurring role as Jacob Prossman on the television series Brooklyn Bridge. In 1995, he made a guest appearance on Star Trek: Voyager as an aging rebel seeking to free his (deceased) wife from prison.[14] In 1999, he starred in Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! mounted by Roundabout Theatre Company.

In 2000, Grey played Oldrich Novy in the film Dancer in the Dark and had recurring television roles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as the evil reptilian demon Doc, 2001), Oz (as Lemuel Idzik, 2003) and Alias (as "Another Mr. Sloane", 2005). He was a wealthy, paroled ex-convict on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (episode "Cuba Libre", 2003). Grey also originated the role of the Wizard of Oz in the hit Broadway musical Wicked. He also appeared on the shows House and Brothers & Sisters (2007), on the latter of which he played the role of Dr. Bar-Shalom, Sarah and Joe's marriage counselor. He appeared as Izzie's high school teacher who needs treatment for dementia in Grey's Anatomy (2009).[14][15][16][17]

Grey returned to Broadway in spring 2011 as Moonface Martin in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.[18] He also played Ned in the 1985 Off-Broadway production of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, and went on to co-direct the Tony Award-winning revival in 2011.[19] For his continued support of Broadway, Grey was named a Givenik Ambassador.[20] He was presented with a lifetime achievement award on June 10, 2013 by The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene.[21]

Personal life

In 1958, Grey married Jo Wilder; they divorced in 1982. Together, they had two children: actor Jennifer and chef James.[1][22] He is also a photographer; his first book of photographs, Pictures I Had to Take, was published in 2003; its follow-up, Looking Hard at Unexpected Things, was published in 2006.[23] His third book, 1.3 – Images from My Phone, a book of photographs taken with his camera phone, was published in 2009.[24] An exhibition of his work was held in April 2011 at the Museum of the City of New York, titled "Joel Grey/A New York Life."[25] His fourth book, The Billboard Papers: Photographs by Joel Grey, came out in 2013 and depicts the many-layered billboards of New York City.[26]

In January 2015, Grey opened up about his sexuality in an interview with People, stating: "I don't like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I'm a gay man."[27] Grey writes about his family, his acting career, and the challenges of being gay in his 2016 memoir, Master of Ceremonies.[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1952 About Face Bender
1957 Calypso Heat Wave Alex Nash
1961 Come September Beagle
1972 Cabaret Master of Ceremonies Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
1972 Man on a String Big Joe Brown Television film
1974 Man on a Swing Franklin Wills
1976 The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Lowenstein
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson Nate Salsbury
1985 Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Chiun "Master of Sinanju" Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 Kafka Burgel
1992 Tom and Jerry: The Movie Narrator
1993 The Music of Chance Willy Stone
1994 The Dangerous Flea
1995 Venus Rising Jimmie
1996 The Empty Mirror Joseph Goebbels
1996 My Friend Joe Simon
1999 A Christmas Carol Ghost of Christmas Past
2000 The Fantasticks Amos Babcock Bellamy
2001 Dancer in the Dark Oldrich Novy
2001 Reaching Normal Dr. Mensley
2008 Choke Phil


Year Title Role Notes
1956 Producers' Showcase
1957 Telephone Time
1957 December Bride
1957 The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom
1958 The Court of Last Resort
1958 Little Women
1959 Maverick Billy the Kid
1960 Bronco
1960 The Ann Sothern Show
1960–1961 Lawman
1961 Yes, Yes Nanette
1961 77 Sunset Strip
1966 My Lucky Penny Pilot
1971 Ironside
1972 Night Gallery
1974 Twas the Night Before Christmas Narrator
Mr. Trundel
1974 The Carol Burnett Show Gary Segment: "Carol and Sis"
1976 The Muppet Show Himself Guest
1981 Paddington Himself Host
1982 Alice Himself
1982 The Yeomen of the Guard Jack Point
1987 Queenie
1991 Dallas Adam
1992 Brooklyn Bridge Jacob Prossman Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1994 Matlock Tommy DeLuca Episode: "The Murder Game"
1995 The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True Narrator of Kansas / Professor Marvel / Gatekeeper of Emerald City /
Coachman of "Horse of a Different Color" /
Doorman to the Wizard's Palace / The Wizard
Television stage performance benefiting the Children's Defense Fund
1995 Star Trek: Voyager Caylem Episode: "Resistance"
1999 The Outer Limits: Essence of Life Dr. Neil Seward
2000 The Outer Limits: Simon Says Gideon Banks
2000 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Doc 3 episodes
2001 Touched by an Angel Ronald 2 episodes
2003 Oz Lemuel Idzik
2003 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Milton Winters
2005 Alias Another Mr. Sloane
2005 Crossing Jordan Carl Meisner, Amnesia Victim Episode: "Forget Me Not"
2006 House Dr. Ezra Powell Episode: "Informed Consent"
2007 Brothers & Sisters Dr. Jude Bar-Shalom
2009 Private Practice Dr. Alexander Ball Episode: "Nothing to Fear"
2009 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Singer
2013 Warehouse 13 Monty the Magnificent
2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Hank Kasserman Episode: "Keep Calm and Carry On"


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Borscht Capades Credited as Joel Kaye
1961 Come Blow Your Horn Buddy Baker
1962 Stop the World - I Want to Get Off Littlechap
1965 Half a Sixpence Arthur Kipps
1966 Cabaret Master of Ceremonies Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
1969 George M! George M. Cohan Nominated – Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1975 Goodtime Charley Charley Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1979 The Grand Tour S. L. Jacobowsky Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Nominated – Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1987 Cabaret Master of Ceremonies Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical
1991 When We Dead Awaken American Repertory Theatre's production at the Sao Paulo Biennale, directed by Robert Wilson
1996 Chicago Amos Hart Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
2003 Wicked The Wizard of Oz
2011 Anything Goes Moonface Martin
2016 The Cherry Orchard Firs


  1. 1 2 3 "Joel Grey Biography (1932-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  2. Stratton, Bert (July 25, 2012). "MICKELE : Mickey Katz lives". Cleveland Jewish News.
  3. "KATZ, MEYER MYRON - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". Case Western Reserve University. July 17, 1997.
  4. Prideaux, Tom. "The Birth of Yankee Doodle Joel", Life Magazine, August 23, 1968, pp. 58–59
  5. Oldenburg, Chloe (1985). Leaps of Faith: History of the Cleveland Play House, 1915-85. Cleveland.
  6. Katz, Mickey (1977). Papa, play for me. Hannibal Coons, foreword by Joel Grey, introduction by Josh Kun. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8195-6433-8. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  7. Internet Broadway Database listing, retrieved December 21, 2009
  8. Zad, Martie. "Stars in Concert With Music of 'Oz'", The Washington Post, p. Y04, November 19, 1995
  9. 1 2 Internet Movie Database listing, Awards, retrieved December 21, 2009
  10. Internet Movie Database listing, Cabaret, Awards, retrieved December 21, 2009
  12. Kowarsky, Gerry. "Joel Grey Is A Charismatic 'George M!'", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), p. 5F, August 5, 1992(1992 only)
  13. Carter, Bill. "So 'Dallas' is Finally Over. Or Is It?", The New York Times, May 6, 1991, p.C14
  14. 1 2 Internet Movies Database listing, roles, retrieved December 21, 2009
  15. "Love is Difficult" episode summary, retrieved December 27, 2009
  16. "New History" episode summary, retrieved December 27, 2009
  17. "Cuba Libre" summary, retrieved December 27, 2009
  18. "Bon Voyage! Anything Goes, With Sutton Foster and Joel Grey, Opens on Broadway"
  19. Gans, Andrew."'Normal Heart', with Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin, John Benjamin Hickey, Will Play Broadway's Golden", February 23, 2011
  20. Gioia, Michael. "Joel Grey, Reeve Carney, Rory O'Malley Are Givenik Ambassadors (Video)". Playbill. Playbill.
  21. "Joel Grey to Be Honored by National Yiddish Theatre June 10"
  22. Laufenberg, Norbert B.Entertainment Celebrities , p. 274 google books, "Entertainment Celebrities", Trafford Publishing, 2005
  23. Joel Grey Looking Hard at Unexamined Things. Joel Grey Photographer.
  24. Samelson, Judy.SHELF LIFE: "American Theatre Reader," Photos by Joel Grey, New Looks at Bernstein and Horne, May 30, 2009
  25. "Joel Grey/A New York Life" Exhibition Will Open at Museum of the City of New York in April
  26. "The Billboard Papers by Joel Grey" Musée Magazine, September 19, 2013
  27. McNeil, Liz. "Broadway Legend Joel Grey Opens Up About His Sexuality", January 28, 2015
  28. Bayard, Louis (February 3, 2016)."Joel Grey takes center stage in ‘Master of Ceremonies’". The Washington Post.


External links

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