Tommy Tune

Tommy Tune

Tune in 1977.
Born Thomas James Tune
(1939-02-28) February 28, 1939
Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actor, choreographer, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer
Years active 1965–present

Thomas James "Tommy" Tune[1] (born February 28, 1939) is an American actor, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer, and choreographer. Over the course of his career, he has won ten Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts.


Early years

Tune was born in Texas to oil rig worker, horse trainer and restaurateur Jim Tune and Eva Mae Clark. He attended Lamar High School in Houston and the Methodist-affiliated Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas. He studied dance under Patsy Swayze in Houston.[2] He also studied dance with Kit Andree in Boulder, Colorado. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962 and his Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Houston. Tune later moved to New York to start his career.[3]


In 1965, Tune made his Broadway debut as a performer in the musical Baker Street. His first Broadway directing and choreography credits were for the original production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1978. He has gone on to direct and/or choreograph eight Broadway musicals. He directed a new musical titled Turn of the Century, which premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on September 19, 2008 and closed on November 2, 2008.[4]

Off-Broadway, Tune has directed The Club and Cloud Nine. Tune toured the United States in the Sherman Brothers musical Busker Alley in 1994–1995, and in the stage adaptation of the film Dr. Dolittle in 2006.[5][6]

Tune is the only person to win Tony Awards in the same categories (Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical) in consecutive years (1990 and 1991), and the first to win in four categories. He has won ten Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

On television, Tune was a recurring guest star and assistant choreographer from 1969–70 on The Dean Martin Show and its summer replacement series, Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers. He also briefly appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1988. [7]

Tune appeared in a 1975 TV special titled Welcome to the "World" along with Lucie Arnaz and Lyle Waggoner to promote the opening of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World.

Tune's film credits include Ambrose in Hello, Dolly! (1969), and The Boy Friend with Twiggy (1971). Tune released his first record album, Slow Dancing, in 1997 on the RCA label, featuring a collection of his favorite romantic ballads.

In 1999, he made his Las Vegas debut as the star of EFX at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.[8]

Tune staged an elaborate musical entitled Paparazzi for the Holland America Line cruise ship the Oosterdam in 2003.[9] He works often with The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, for example touring in a Big Band revue entitled Song and Dance Man and White Tie and Tails (2002).[10]

Tune performed in his musical revue, Steps in Time: A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance, in Boston in April 2008 and continuing in various venues from Bethesda, Maryland in January 2009 to California in February 2009.[11][12][13]

The Tommy Tune Awards, presented annually by Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) honor excellence in high school musical theatre in Houston. The current home of the Tommy Tune Awards is the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas.[14]

In 2013, he appeared as Argyle Austero in the revived fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix.

In 2015, he made a return to the New York stage as a featured performer in City Center's popular series Encores! He was featured in two numbers in LADY, BE GOOD; his first act number was the Gershwin standard "Fascinatin' Rhythm."

Personal life

When not performing, he used to run an art gallery in Tribeca that featured his own work. As of 2014 it is no longer open.[15][16] In Tune's 1997 memoir Footnotes, he writes about what drives him as a performer, choreographer and director, offers stories about being openly gay in the world of theatre, his partners David Wolfe and Michael Stuart, about his days with Twiggy in My One and Only and meeting and working with his many idols.[17]

Before leaving Texas in the 1960s for a Broadway career in New York, Tune worked with Mary Highsmith, mother of crime novelist Patricia Highsmith, at the Point Summer Theatre. In a letter to her daughter, Highsmith referred to Tune as her "adopted boy" whom she called "Romano." Tune later praised Highsmith for helping him develop his talents: "She was an opening for me; she opened a little bit of my tight fabric so that I might peer through."[18]

Broadway productions

Awards and nominations



  1. Matthew Blank (3 February 2015). "CUE & A: Song and Dance Legend Tommy Tune on Carol Channing, Kissing Twiggy and His Love of Pro Wrestling". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  2. Kelly, Devin (2013-09-18). "Patsy Swayze, mother of Patrick Swayze, dies at 86". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  3. Kim Summers (2008). "Tommy Tune Biography". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  4. Jones, Kenneth (2 November 2008). "Tune, Elice and Brickman's Turn of the Century Ends in Chicago, Aims for a Future". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  5. Elyse Sommer (1 December 2007). "Busker Alley: From One Night Benefit to Gala CD Launch. . .and On to Broadway". Curtain Up. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  6. "Dr. Dolittle Closes His Practice on the Road". Playbill. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  7. Template:Title=Episode 1594 - The Mister Rogers Archive
  8. talkinbroadway review, undated ca. 1999
  9. listing for Holland America
  10. Elyse Sommer (19 December 2002). "A CurtainUp Review Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails". curtainup. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  11. Jane Hurwitz (January 21, 2009). "For ' Steps in Time, Tommy Tune Taps Into a Long, Tall Career". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  12. Adam Hetrick (January 6, 2009). "Tommy Tune to Perform Steps in Time in Stamford in February". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  13. Jan Nargi (14 April 2008). "Tommy Tune: Steps in Time". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  14. "Tommy Tune Awards". Theatre Under The Stars. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  15. Andrew Gans (18 December 2007). "Tommy Tune Launches On-Line Art Gallery". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  16. Tommy Tune (1997). "A Broadway Tune: A Halloween Visit with Tommy Tune". glbtq Encyclopedia (transcript). Interview with Owen Keehnen. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  17. Tune, Tommy (1997). Footnotes: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84182-7.
  18. Schenkar, Joan. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith. St. Martin's Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-312-30375-4 - page 61-63
  19. "Tommy Tune".
  20. "Lifetime Honors: National Medal of Arts:". National Endowment for the Arts. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  21. Associated Press (7 February 2003). "Talented Texans to be Honored". The Houston Chronicle. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  22. Adam Hetrick; Ernio Hernandez (15 February 2008). "Tune Will Be Honored With 2008 Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  23. Andrew Gans (14 March 2008). "Annual Tony Party to Honor Tommy Tune; Henderson Hosts". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
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