Harvey Fierstein

Harvey Fierstein Headshot

Actor • Voice Actor

Birth Name: Harvey Forbes Fierstein

Birth Date: June 6, 1954

Age: 69 years old

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

One of America's first few openly gay major celebrities, actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein combined a semi-experimental, in-your-face approach with the nostalgia, the heart-tugging showmanship, and the conventional formats of the tearjerker, the drag revue, and the sitcom. In the process, he proved to be a key figure in promoting the idea that contemporary LGBT life could be a viable subject matter for contemporary drama distributed through fairly widespread venues.

A very versatile performer, Fierstein brought his talent for focusing the outlandish with his debut as an asthmatic lesbian cleaning woman in one of Andy Warhol's few theatrical ventures, "Pork," in 1971. During the 70s, a very up-and-down period for the actor, the one-act pieces which eventually formed "Torch Song Trilogy" were written, performed and reworked until they became a highly polished triptych of contemporary gay culture. In retrospect, it seems incredible that "Torch Song" didn't make it to Broadway until 1983, but his dual Tony wins for both Best Play and Best Actor brought a new kind of face into American living rooms during the awards broadcast. Fierstein scored again in the theater the following year by writing the amusing book of the sumptuous, popular Broadway musical adaptation, "La Cage aux Folles," earning a third Tony in the process. Acting roles in mainstream films began soon thereafter with a part in "Garbo Talks" (1984), and Fierstein eventually co-produced and starred in a somewhat disappointing film adaptation of "Torch Song Trilogy" in 1988. He has subsequently kept very much in the public eye with several AIDS awareness specials, the moving narration to the Oscar-winning documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" (1984), and hilarious performances on "Cheers" as Rebecca's former boyfriend and on "The Simpsons" as Homer's secretary. His voice-over for the latter spotlighted Fierstein's unique voice, once described in NEW YORK NEWSDAY as "that Brillo-and-bourbon growl." He played Dr. Lang for a time on the daytime soap "Loving" (ABC) and has included several nongay characters in his repertoire of acting stints in TV-movies and series work. His small but highly amusing turn as Robin Williams's brother in "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993) seemed a suitable reflection not only of mainstream culture's continued marginalization of gay characters and lifestyles but also its increased curiosity and, indeed, sometimes liberal acceptance of them, attitudes which typify Fierstein's important if unsteady niche in popular culture and social politics. He also played a key role in the sci-fi epic "Independence Day" (1996), about an alien invasion of the USA. For a while, Fierstein seemed to excel most at playing himself, or winking nods to his real-life persona, on TV guest appearances and the like, but continued to snare roles in everything from family fare such as "Elmo Saves Christmas" (video, 1996) and as a voice actor in Disney's aninmated adventure "Mulan" (1998) to barbarian fantasy like "Kull the Conqueror" (1997). He was Alicia Witt's gay guy pal in "Playing Mona Lisa" (2000) and reunited with Robin Williams for director Danny DeVito's manic "Death to Smoochy" (2002), but Fierstein would both completely reinvent himself and shrewdly play off his established image in 2002 when he took on the part of "Hairspray's" housewife Edna Turnblad (originally played by Divine in the film version) in Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman's Broadway musical adaptation of the John Waters cult film. Dressed completely in drag and not afraid to mine the part for the campiest gold he could, Fierstein became the toast of Broadway when the show became a smash hit, winning the trophy for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at the 2003 Tony Awards. The actor returned to film work in 2003 with a role in the DeVito directed comedy "Duplex" opposite Drew Barrymore and Ben Stiller.

Credits

BrosStream

Actor
Louis
Movie
2022

Disarm Hate

Narrator
Show
2020

The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceStream

Voice
The Gourmand
Series
2019
89%

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles

Self
Movie
2019

Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles

Self
Movie
2019

Bye Bye Birdie Live!

Writer
Show
2018

Today 3rd Hour

Guest
Show
2018

Megyn Kelly Today

Guest
Talk
2017

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Animal Crackers

Voice
Esmerelda
Movie
2017

Hairspray Live!

Actor
Edna Turnblad
Show
2016

Hairspray Live!

Writer
Show
2016

Full Frontal With Samantha BeeStream

Guest
Talk
2016

Hairspray Live!Stream

Actor
Edna Turnblad
Movie
2016
76%

Hairspray Live!Stream

Writer
Movie
2016
76%

The Wiz Live!Stream

Writer
Special
2015

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

Guest
Talk
2014

The Social

Guest
Show
2013

SmashStream

Guest Star
Series
2012
68%

CBS This Morning

Guest
Show
2012

Drama Desk Awards 2011

Host
Show
2011

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

The Good WifeStream

Guest Star
Judge Francis Flamm
Series
2009
93%

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

Guest
Talk
2009

Nurse JackieStream

Guest Star
John Decker
Series
2009
81%

The Wendy Williams Show

Guest
Talk
2008

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Actor
Heat Miser
Movie
2006

How I Met Your MotherStream

Guest Star
Lily's Smoking Voice
Series
2005
84%

From Shtetl To Swing: A Musical Odyssey

Narrator
Movie
2005

Happy to Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me

Voice
Show
2004

Mulan II

Voice
Yao
Movie
2004

Our House

Actor
Kenneth
Movie
2003

Our House

Actor
Movie
2003

DuplexStream

Actor
Kenneth
Movie
2003
35%

Death to SmoochyStream

Actor
Merv Green
Movie
2002
42%

Live With Regis and Kelly

Guest
Show
2001

Common Ground

Actor
Don
Movie
2000

Common Ground

Writer
Movie
2000

Playing Mona Lisa

Actor
Bennett
Movie
2000

The Sissy Duckling

Voice
Elmer
Show
1999

Family Guy

Guest Voice
Tracy
Show
1999

Family GuyStream

Guest Voice
Tracy
Series
1999

Double Platinum

Actor
Gary Millstein
Movie
1999

Jump

Actor
Dish Macense
Movie
1999

MulanStream

Voice
Yao
Movie
1998
86%

Safe Men

Actor
Leo
Movie
1998

Fame L.A.

Guest Star
Show
1997

Kull the Conqueror

Actor
Juba
Movie
1997

Elmo Saves Christmas

Actor
Easter Bunny
Show
1996

Theater Talk

Guest
Show
1996

Access HollywoodStream

Guest
News
1996

Elmo rettet Weihnachten

Actor
Easter Bunny
Movie
1996

The Celluloid ClosetStream

Actor
Movie
1996
97%

Independence DayStream

Actor
Marty Gilbert
Movie
1996
68%

White Lies

Actor
Art
Movie
1996

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

Actor
Yves DuBois
Movie
1995

Daddy's Girls

Actor
Dennis Sinclair
Show
1994

EllenStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

Bullets over BroadwayStream

Actor
Sid Loomis
Movie
1994
95%

The Harvest

Actor
Bob Lakin
Movie
1993

Mrs. DoubtfireStream

Actor
Frank
Movie
1993
70%

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Guest
Talk
1992

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Karl
Series
1989
85%

Torch Song Trilogy

Actor
Arnold Beckoff
Movie
1988
77%

Crimen en Cadena

Actor
Movie
1986

Apology

Actor
The derelict
Movie
1986

Murder, She WroteStream

Guest Star
Stan Hatter
Series
1984

Miami ViceStream

Guest Star
Benedict
Series
1984
71%

The Times of Harvey Milk

Narrator
Movie
1984

Garbo Talks

Actor
Bernie Whitlock
Movie
1984

CheersStream

Guest Star
Mark Newberger
Series
1982
87%

CBS News Sunday Morning

Guest
News
1979

Saturday Night LiveStream

Guest Star
Series
1975

Great PerformancesStream

Guest
Franchise
1972

Canada AM

Guest
Show
1972

Sesame StreetStream

Guest
Series
1969

Sesame StreetStream

Guest Star
Series
1969

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