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Joel Grey (Joel David Katz), who danced and sang to international stardom as the Master of Ceremonies in the 1966 Broadway production of Cabaret, was born to a show-biz family — his father was the “novelty song” musician Mickey Katz — in Cleveland on this date in 1932. Grey has won the Academy Award, the Tony Award, and the Golden Globe, and has appeared in numerous films and television shows. His other famous Broadway roles have included George M. Cohan in the 1973 musical George M!, and the Wizard of Oz in the 2003 musical Wicked. Grey has also published four books of photographs. In his 2016 memoir, Master of Ceremonies, he described the challenges and sorrows of being a closeted gay man for most of his life. “I always wanted children, to be a dad,” said Grey, who was married to actress Jo Wilder for twenty-four years and raised two children. “That was as important to me as being an actor. But being an actor saved my life.” To see him singing with the Muppets, look below.
““There was so much early input about the horror of homosexuality. I remember hearing the sound of my family talking about ‘fagelehs’ — Yiddish for little birds — and hearing all the other words, like ‘faggot.’ I remember I heard very early in my life about men being entrapped. I thought, this is bad. And we didn’t know any gay people, except a pianist that my father hired. They loved him — but he was marked.” —Joel Grey