Sunday, June 06, 2010

Happy Birthday Harvey Fierstein

'I do believe we're all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.' These words, from playwright, actor, and commentator Harvey Fierstein - one of only two people (the other is Tommy Tune) to win Tony Awards in four separate categories - pretty neatly sum up the goals he seems to have set out for himself in his career...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAcclaimed for the stage version of Torch Song Trilogy (which he wrote, natch) he was a standout in the movie version* as well. He then wrote the book for the hugely successful 1983 Jerry Herman musical La Cage aux Folles; Legs Diamond, a 1988 collaboration with Peter Allen, was not so lucky. Fierstein's narration of the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk gave that production the necessary gravelly gravitas.

Since the 1980s Fierstein has struggled a bit to find his niche as a performer; in 1994 when he appeared in the short-lived CBS sitcom Daddy's Girls (opposite Dudley Moore and a very young Keri Russell) his role became one of the few openly gay characters played by an openly gay man in the history of American television. In 1995 he released a concert album entitled This Is Not Going To Be Pretty, which resides in a place of honour in the collection at the Pop Culture Institute. In 2003 he triumphed again, originating the role of Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray, a role previously played only by the divine Divine in the John Waters film of the same name. Alas, his name was not sufficiently big enough to star in the movie version of the musical, an honour which went to John Travolta - a bit of stunt casting which caused considerable grumbling by the blogosphere.

*As a sad aside, Anne Bancroft, Fierstein's costar in the film, died on this day in 2003.

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1 comment:

Seumas Gagne said...

I think he's get to make his biggest splash. I think he's going to be the next Oprah.