Harvey Fierstein made his professional acting debut at La Mama ETC in 1971 in Andy Warhol’s only play, Pork. He followed that with appearances in more than 60 Off-Off-Broadway productions before he began his career as a playwright. Early works like Flatbush Tosca and Cobra Jewels led to his underground hit Torch Song Trilogy, which transferred Off-Broadway in 1981, and then to Broadway in 1982, where it won the Best Play Tony Award as well as Drama Desk, Obie, and Dramatist Guild Awards. As an actor, Fierstein also won Tony, Drama Desk, and Theater World Awards for his portrayal of the lead. A revival of Torch Song at the Second Stage was warmly received in the fall of 2017 and returned to Broadway in 2018.
Harvey won his third Tony for the libretto of the musical La Cage Aux Folles, which is the only show in history to have won Best Musical and two Best Revival of a Musical Tony Awards. His other plays include Newsies (Tony nominated for Best Book), Kinky Boots (Tony Award for Best Musical, nominated for Best Book), A Catered Affair (Drama League winner Outstanding Musical of the Year), Casa Valentina, Safe Sex, Spookhouse and Legs Diamond.
In 2015 he adapted the book of The Wiz for TV, and the following year he wrote and starred in the live television broadcast of Hairspray. Harvey has also penned a revised libretto for Funny Girl that ran in London to critical acclaim. For television, Harvey wrote and starred in the HBO film On Tidy Endings and the Showtime film Common Ground. He has appeared as an actor in Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy and The Simpsons, and was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the classic Cheers. Films include Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Death to Smoochy, Bullets Over Broadway, and the Academy and Emmy Award winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk.
Fierstein’s starring role as Edna in the musical Hairspray won him a fourth Tony Award as well as another Drama Desk Award, New York Magazine Award, and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance of the Year. This made him the first person in history to win Tony Awards as an actor as well as a writer on both the dramatic and musical sides of the theater world. In 2005, Harvey spent a triumphant year on Broadway as Tevye in the record-breaking revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and then reprised the role in 2009 and 2010 on tour across North America. In 2011 he stepped into the Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles, playing the lead of Albin for the first time. In 2017 he starred in the Public Theater’s production of Gently Down the Stream.
Fierstein was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2008. His children’s book The Sissy Duckling is published by Simon & Schuster and the HBO film version won him the Humanitas Prize. As a social and political commentator, Harvey’s opinion pieces and essays have been featured on the TV series In the Life and on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and Huffington Post, among other publications. Fierstein lives in a small fictional town in Connecticut.