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Joel Grey

At the 1993 Emmy Awards
Born Joel David Katz
April 11, 1932 (1932-04-11) (age 77)
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Occupation Actor, dancer, singer
Years active 1951 – present
Spouse(s) Jo Wilder (1958–1982)

Joel Grey (born April 11, 1932) is an American stage and screen actor, singer, and dancer, best known for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film adaptation of the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret. He has won the Academy Award, Tony Award, Golden Globe Award, and BAFTA.


Early life

Grey was born as Joel David Katz in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Grace and Mickey Katz, an actor, comedian and musician.[1] Grey started his career as a child actor in the Cleveland Playhouse.[2]


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), Goodtime Charley (1975), The Grand Tour (1979), Chicago (1996), and Wicked (2003).[3] 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.[4]

Grey won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1972 for his performance as the Master of Ceremonies in the film version of Cabaret.[5] 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. [6] Grey won over front-runner Al Pacino for the Best Supporting Actor while Fosse won over Francis Ford Coppola as Best Director. For that role, Grey also won the BAFTA award for "The Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles" [5] and a Tony Award 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.[7]

He has performed at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri in roles such as George M. Cohan in George M! (1970 and 1992)[8], the Emcee in Cabaret (1971), and Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1983).[1]

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.[9] 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". In 1991, he played Adam, a devil, in the final episode of the TV series Dallas (1991).[10] In 1993 he 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.[11]

In 2000, Grey played Oldrich Novy in the film Dancer in the Dark and had recurring television roles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as 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). 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).[11][12][13][14]

Personal life

In 1958 he married Jo Wilder; they divorced in 1982. Grey is the father of actress Jennifer Grey, the star of Dirty Dancing, and James, a chef.[1][15]

Grey 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, appeared in the Fall of 2006.[16] His third book, 1.3 – Images from My Phone, is also a photography book but taken with his camera phone, was published on June 2, 2009 (Powerhouse Books).[17]




Year Production Role Notes
1951 Borscht Capades credited as Joel Kaye
1961 Come Blow Your Horn Buddy Baker Replacement
1962 Stop the World - I Want to Get Off Littlechap Replacement
1965 Half a Sixpence Arthur Kipps Replacement
1966 Cabaret Master of Ceremonies Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
1969 George M! George M. Cohan Nominee: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1975 Goodtime Charley Charley Nominee: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1979 The Grand Tour S. L. Jacobowsky Nominee: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
1987 Cabaret Master of Ceremonies Revival
1996 Chicago Amos Hart
2003 Wicked The Wizard of Oz Original Broadway cast



Year Film 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
Golden Globe
1974 Man on a Swing Franklin Wills
1976 The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Lowenstein
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson Nate Salisbury (Cody's partner)
1985 Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Chiun Nominee: Golden Globe
1991 Kafka Burgel
1993 The Music of Chance Willy Stone
1994 The Dangerous Flea
1995 Venus Rising Jimmie
1996 The Empty Mirror Joseph Goebbels
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
Reaching Normal Dr. Mensley
2008 Choke Phil



Year Production Role
1956 Producers' Showcase
1957 Telephone Time
December Bride
1958 Court of Last Resort
Little Women (special)
1959 Maverick (TV series) Billy the Kid
1960 Bronco (TV series)
The Ann Sothern Show
1960-1961 Lawman (TV series)
1961 Yes, Yes Nanette
77 Sunset Strip
1966 My Lucky Penny (pilot)
1971 Ironside (TV series)
1972 Night Gallery
Man on a String (telefilm)
1974 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (special) Narrator
1976 The Muppet Show Himself / Guest
1981 Paddington Bear Host
1982 Alice (TV series)
1982 The Yeomen of the Guard (special - Brent Walker productions) Jack Point
1987 Queenie (telefilm)
1991 Dallas Adam/Devil
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Caylem
1999 The Outer Limits: Essence of Life Dr. Neil Seward
2000 The Outer Limits: Simon Says Gideon Banks
2000 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Doc
2003 Oz Lemuel Idzik
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Milton Winters
2005 Alias (TV series) Another Mr. Sloane
2006 House Ezra Powell
2009 Private Practice Dr. Alexander Ball
Grey's Anatomy Dr. Singer


  1. ^ a b c "Joel Grey Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  2. ^ Prideaux, Tom. "The Birth of Yankee Doodle Joel", Life Magazine, August 23, 1968, pp 58-59
  3. ^ a b Internet Broadway Database, retrieved December 21, 2009
  4. ^ Zad, Martie. "Stars in Concert With Music of 'Oz'", The Washington Post, p. Y04, November 19, 1995
  5. ^ a b Internet Movie Database listing,, retrieved December 21, 2009
  6. ^ Internet Movie Database listing, Cabaret,, retrieved December 21, 2009
  7. ^ List of persons who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards
  8. ^ Kowarsky, Gerry. "Joel Grey Is A Charismatic 'George M!'", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), p. 5F, August 5, 1992(1992 only)
  9. ^ Grey on The Muppet Show, retrieved December 27, 2009
  10. ^ Carter, Bill. "So 'Dallas' is Finally Over. Or Is It?", The New York Times, May 6, 1991, p.C14
  11. ^ a b c d Internet Movies Database listing,, retrieved December 21, 2009
  12. ^ "Love is Difficult" episode, retrieved December 27, 2009
  13. ^ "New History" episode, retrieved December 27, 2009
  14. ^ "Cuba Libre", retrieved December 27, 2009
  15. ^ Laufenberg, Norbert B.Entertainment Celebrities , p. 274google books, "Entertainment Celebrities", Trafford Publishing, 2005
  16. ^ Joel Grey Looking Hard at Unexamined Things. Joel Grey Photographer.
  17. ^ Samelson, Judy.SHELF LIFE: "American Theatre Reader," Photos by Joel Grey, New Looks at Bernstein and, May 30, 2009


  • Parrish, James Robert (1989). The Complete Actors' Television Credits, 1948–1988. 1. p. 212. ISBN 0-8108-2204-0. 

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