Nathan Lane: Wikis


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Nathan Lane

Lane in New York City, November 2005
Born Joseph Lane
February 3, 1956 (1956-02-03) (age 54)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1975–present

Nathan Lane (born February 3, 1956) is a two-time Tony and Emmy award-winning American actor of stage and screen. He is best known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in MouseHunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and his voice work in The Lion King and Stuart Little. In 2009 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.


Early years

Lane was born Joseph Lane in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Irish American Catholic parents.[1][2] He was named after his uncle, a Jesuit priest.[3] His father, Daniel, was a truck driver and an aspiring tenor who died from alcoholism when Lane was eleven; his mother, Nora, was a housewife and secretary, who suffered from manic-depression, and died in 2000.[4][5][6] He has two brothers, Robert and Daniel. Lane attended Roman Catholic schools in Jersey City, including Jesuit-run St. Peter's Preparatory High School where he was selected Best Actor in 1974.


His brother Dan accompanied him to what was supposed to be his first day at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia. When they arrived, they learned the drama scholarship Lane had won didn't cover enough of the expenses for him to stay. They went back home. "I remember him saying to me, 'College is for people who don't know what they want to do,'" Dan Lane recalls.[citation needed] Because there already was a Joseph Lane registered with Actors Equity, he changed his name to Nathan after the character Nathan Detroit from the musical Guys and Dolls. He moved to New York City where, after a long struggle, his career began to take off, first with some brief success in the world of stand-up comedy with partner, Patrick Stack, and later with off-Broadway productions at Second Stage Theatre, the Roundabout Theatre, the Manhattan Theatre Club, and his 1982 Broadway debut in a revival of Noel Coward's Present Laughter as Roland Maule (Drama Desk nomination) with George C. Scott, Kate Burton, Dana Ivey, and Christine Lahti.

His second Broadway appearance was in the 1983 box-office failure Merlin, starring Chita Rivera and magician Doug Henning. This was followed by Wind in the Willows as Mr. Toad, Some Americans Abroad at Lincoln Center, the national tour of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, and On Borrowed Time at Circle in the Square Theatre with George C. Scott again. In 1992, he starred in the revival of Guys and Dolls, receiving his first Tony nomination, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, playing the character who lent him his name, opposite Peter Gallagher and Faith Prince.

His professional association with his close friend the playwright Terrence McNally includes roles in Lips Together, Teeth Apart, The Lisbon Traviata (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards), Bad Habits, Love! Valour! Compassion! (Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), and Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams (Drama Desk nomination). The early 1990s began a stretch of successful Broadway shows for Lane. In 1993, he portrayed Sid Caesar-like Max Prince in Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, inspired by Simon's early career writing sketches for Your Show of Shows. In 1996, he starred in the revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, for which he won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.

His association with Sondheim began with the workshop of Assassins, and after Forum he appeared with Victor Garber in the workshop of Wise Guys (later retitled Road Show). Their collaboration continued in 2004 when he revised the original book for and starred in the Broadway debut of the composer's The Frogs at Lincoln Center. He also sang a song written especially for him by Sondheim in the film The Birdcage. In 2000 he starred in the Roundabout revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner as Sheridan Whiteside, with Jean Smart and Harriet Harris. Prior to that he starred in the Encores! production of Do Re Mi.

In addition to the McNally plays, Lane has appeared in numerous other Off Broadway productions, including Love (the musical version of Murray Schisgal's Luv), Measure for Measure directed by Joseph Papp in Central Park, The Common Pursuit, The Film Society, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, In a Pig's Valise, Trumbo, She Stoops to Conquer, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in The School for Scandal and John Guare's Moon Over Miami .

Lane performed in 1995's The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996. Lane won his second Tony Award for his portrayal of Max Bialystock in the musical version of Mel Brooks's The Producers, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. He later replaced Richard Dreyfuss in the role in 2004 at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane at the last minute, and went on to win the Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. He recreated his performance for the film version, for which he received his second Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.

Lane has performed two roles originated by Zero Mostel, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Max Bialystock in The Producers. He declined the role of Tevye in the 2004 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof because he didn't want to be seen as always following in Mostel's footsteps. Coincidentally, both of Lane's Tony Awards were for Mostel's roles.

In 2005, Lane rejoined his Producers co-star Matthew Broderick for an extremely successful limited run of The Odd Couple. In 2006, he changed gears to take on a primarily dramatic role in a revival of Simon Gray's Butley. He and Broderick were awarded adjacent stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a joint ceremony on January 9, 2006. They were also immortalized as Max and Leo at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. He next starred in the new David Mamet play, November, directed by Joe Mantello, and in the critically acclaimed revival of Waiting for Godot[7] with Bill Irwin. He is now starring in the musical of The Addams Family as Gomez with Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. In 2009 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Personal life

When he told his mother he was gay, she replied, "I'd rather you were dead."[8] To which he replied, "I knew you'd understand." Lane, who came out publicly after the death of Matthew Shepard, once jokingly explained, "I was born in 1956. I'm one of those old-fashioned homosexuals, not one of the newfangled ones who are born joining [pride] parades."[3] He has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and he has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and The Trevor Project for his work in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Lane resides in New York, has a long-time partner, and remains very good friends with Matthew Broderick, Mel Brooks, Robin Williams and Ernie Sabella.

Awards and nominations


He has received three nominations and won two Daytime Emmy Awards, in 1995 for Disney's Timon and Pumbaa and in 2000 for Disney's Teacher's Pet. He has also received two Emmy nominations for guest appearances on Frasier and Mad About You. In 1999 he won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series.


  • 1997 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast - The Birdcage
  • 1996 American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture - The Birdcage
  • 2002 National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble Performance - Nicholas Nickleby
  • 1997 MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo - The Birdcage
  • 1997 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy - The Birdcage
  • 1997 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - The Birdcage
  • 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - The Producers


  • 1986 St. Clair Bayfield Award for Shakespearean Performance - Measure For Measure
  • 1990 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play - The Lisbon Traviata
  • 1992 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Guys and Dolls
  • 1992 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance
  • 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play - Love! Valour! Compassion!
  • 1995 Obie Award for Ensemble Acting - Love! Valour! Compassion!
  • 1996 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  • 1996 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical - The Producers
  • 2001 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical - The Producers
  • 2005 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical - The Producers

Also the winner of four Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Lucille Lortel Award for The Lisbon Traviata




His television credits include One of the Boys with Mickey Rooney and Dana Carvey, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd , the title role in The Man Who Came to Dinner, the voice of the title character in the animated series Teacher's Pet, as well as Timon & Pumbaa and George and Martha, and guest appearances on Miami Vice, Mad About You, Sex and the City, Frasier, Saturday Night Live as host, The Tony Awards as host and co-host four times, Great Performances - Alice In Wonderland , The Last Mile, and as host for the 30th anniversary, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Absolutely Fabulous and 30 Rock. He has starred in two television films, The Boys Next Door and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. With the Boston Pops, he performed a tribute concert of Danny Kaye material, as well as appearing in the Harry Connick Christmas Special, Merry Christmas, George Bailey, and A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa. His attempts at a regular series of his own, Encore! Encore! and Charlie Lawrence, were ratings disappointments.



Lane provided the voice of Tom Morrow, the Audio-Animatronic host of Disneyland's Innoventions attraction.


  1. ^ Dezell, Maureen (2003-10-19). "Nathan Lane goes beyond Broadway". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  2. ^ Tugend, Tom (2005-12-30). "In Search of Nathan Lane's 'Jewish' Roots". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix 58 (14). Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, David (2004-11-07). "Bring on the clown". Guardian Unlimited.,,1345473,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  4. ^ Vilanch, Bruce (1999-02-02). "Citizen Lane - Actor Nathan Lane". The Advocate. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  5. ^ "Nathan Lane Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Nathan Lane Biography". Film Reference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  7. ^ Frey, Hillary (2009-03-03). "Broadway Bows Down to Power Dames Fonda, Sarandon, Lansbury". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  8. ^ Dezell, Maureen (2003-10-19). "Nathan Lane goes beyond Broadway". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  9. ^ "Trevor NY Honoring Nathan Lane". The Trevor Project. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  10. ^ "Lane to Be Honored by Human Rights Campaign". Backstage. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Nathan Lane in 2006

Joseph “Nathan” Lane (born February 3, 1956) is a two-time Tony and Emmy Award-winning American actor of the stage and screen. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in Mousehunt and his voice work in The Lion King and Stuart Little.


  • I can remember seeing the movie for the first time at a revival house in L.A. and laughing with everyone else, and never imagining that I would be doing Max one day, even though by then I had already memorized the entire movie.
    • On his role in The Producers — reported in Amy Longsdorf (December 25, 2005) "Lane, Broderick play off each other", The Record, p. E01.
  • I think of myself as an actor and not a movie star. I like doing movies; I enjoy it. But, essentially, I'm a theater actor. That's the only place I feel like I actually am a star. In the theater, I can put people in the seats and sell tickets.
    • Amy Longsdorf (January 25, 2000) "Isnt' He Great? - Hollywood Sure Thinks So, But Nathan Lane Is Still More Comfortable Onstage Than On Celluloid", The Record, p. Y1.
  • I had to develop a sense of humor I'm sure it's a defense mechanism. It was, 'Before they make fun of me, I'll make a joke.' Being funny is just a point of view about life in general. Sometimes it's born out of difficult childhoods, where you have to develop a sense of humor. Ultimately, it's a gift.
    • Marshall Fine (January 24, 2000) "Nathan the 'Great'", The Journal News, p. 1E.
  • There's a freedom there and an understanding of my career and the things I've done. I'm seen here as primarily a comic actor, which is OK, but I can go to New York and I do something that's very emotional. It would be lovely at some point to do something like that on film.
    • Betsy Pickle (December 17, 1999) "If there's a mouse, call Lane - Actor didn't 'paws' before taking on film", The Knoxville News-Sentinel, p. 4.
  • But in order for anyone to become successful, sometimes you have to be that driven and focused, and maybe there isn't a lot left over for personal relationships -- although I certainly have had them. It's not as if I cut myself off, but it makes them very difficult. This profession is very hard on relationships.
    • John Koch (July 11, 1999) "Nathan Lane", Boston Globe, p. 12.
  • I guess there's some sort of unspoken show business rule, [speaks in British accent] 'You do the theater, and then you move into television, and then, of course, that is your steppingstone to film stardom.' I've done it every which way. I've done theater for many, many years and then had some success in films. I would do television sporadically. I thought this was a good time to try it.
  • A sitcom is the closest thing for me to doing stage because you work in front of an audience, and if it's well written it can be very satisfying.
    • Sunday Tasmanian staff (January 4, 1998) "This Is A Very Mice Story!", Sunday Tasmanian, p. 037.
  • My oldest brother used to take me to the theater. The first play he took me to see was 'Black Comedy,' then he took me to see 'Butley.' We'd see all these British plays. And 'Hello, Dolly,' with Pearl Bailey. I was unconsciously thinking, 'Gee, I would love to be able to do that.'
  • I was at a dinner party at Steve Martin's house not too long ago. Some very funny people were there - Steve, Marty Short, the whole gang. We sat around the table, like eight of us, and we laughed so hard that we were just sitting there laughing and crying. And I thought, 'This is great. This is what it's like when life is really good. Sitting around with people of that quality and that caliber, people being funny. Smart and funny.' It's great.
  • Yes, I've been compared to Jackie Gleason often. I've been often compared to Lou Costello. ... But after a while you start to go, 'Well, geez. Do I have a personality in there?' The funny thing about Gleason is, he always used to talk about watching Jack Oakie. And if you ever watch Jack Oakie in an old movie, it's very similar to Gleason. ... I think we all steal from one another.
    • Laurence Chollet (November 19, 1991) "Knocking Them Dead Even As a Grave Figure, This Actor Has The Last Laugh", The Record, p. D05.


  • There isn't anyone else like Nathan. He is able to express more in a look or a word than most actors I've ever worked with.
  • I think it really is all about technique, but it's where the intersection of acting and singing sort of meets. There has to be a musicality to the delivery of a line of dialogue that gives it impact. Somebody like Nathan Lane understands that. It's in his bones really. He can deliver a line five different ways, and each one has incredible impact and intonation and rhythm.
    • Rob Minkoff, on Lane's ability with voice acting — reported in Evan Henerson (July 19, 2002) No Vocal Yokels - When Animated Characters Need That Extra Dimension, Stars Step Up To The Mic", Daily News of Los Angeles, p. U6.
  • When Nathan read aloud one of his lines, 'I'm a lying, despicable crook, but I have no choice. I am a Broadway producer,' they all howled. And then they started to throw money at the project. They all wanted to produce the show.
  • He is a theater animal who is ignited by his synergy with an audience. Audiences are only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg of what Nathan can do.
    • Lynne Meadow — reported in Michael Sommers (May 26, 1996) "Nathan In The Fast Lane, From Broadway to `Birdcage' to hosting - the Tonys, 'Forum' star rules", The Star-Ledger, p. 12.
  • I've seen most of Nathan's work, but it was seeing both 'Lisbon Traviata' and 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' that I realized just what a superb physical comic he was.
    • Mike Nichols — reported in Kenneth M. Chanko, Entertainment News Wire (March 11, 1996) "Dragged Into The Limelight", Press-Telegram, p. D1.

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