Nathan Lane

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Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane - Butley.jpg
Lane in Huntington Theatre Company's production of Simon Gray's Butley
BornJoseph Lane
(1956-02-03) February 3, 1956 (age 59)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
OccupationActor, writer
Years active1975–present
AwardsTony Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, SAG Award, Drama Desk Awards, Olivier Award, Obie Awards, People's Choice Award
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For the Wisconsin politician, see Nathan E. Lane.
Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane - Butley.jpg
Lane in Huntington Theatre Company's production of Simon Gray's Butley
BornJoseph Lane
(1956-02-03) February 3, 1956 (age 59)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
OccupationActor, writer
Years active1975–present
AwardsTony Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, SAG Award, Drama Desk Awards, Olivier Award, Obie Awards, People's Choice Award

Nathan Lane (born Joseph Lane; February 3, 1956) is an American actor and writer. He is 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, his voice work as Snowbell in Stuart Little and Timon in The Lion King, and his recurring roles on Modern Family and The Good Wife. In 2006, Lane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Nathan Lane was born Joseph Lane in Jersey City, New Jersey. 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.[3][4][5] He has two older brothers, Daniel Jr. and Robert.[6] Lane's parents were Catholics of Irish descent.[7] He was named after his uncle, a Jesuit priest.[8] Lane attended Catholic schools in Jersey City, including Jesuit-run St. Peter's Preparatory High School, where he was voted Best Actor in 1974, and years later received the 2011 Prep Hall of Fame Professional Achievement Award.[9]



Accepted to Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia on a drama scholarship, he was accompanied on what was supposed to be his first day there by his older brother Dan. Discovering that the scholarship would not cover enough of his expenses, he decided to leave, and work for a year to earn some money. "I remember him saying to me, 'College is for people who don't know what they want to do,'" his brother said.[6] 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.[10] 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,[11][12] 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 Noël 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 musical 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, and the national tour of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound.


In 1991, Lane starred with George C. Scott again in a revival of Paul Osborne's On Borrowed Time at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway. In 1992, he starred in the hit 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 The Lisbon Traviata (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards), Bad Habits, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Love! Valour! Compassion! (Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams (Drama Desk nomination), The Last Mile on PBS Great Performances, and the film version of Frankie and Johnny. 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 hit 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 when he revised the original book for and starred in the Broadway debut of the composer's The Frogs at Lincoln Center in 2004. He also sang a song written especially for him by Sondheim in the film The Birdcage, for which he received his first Golden Globe nomination.

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, for which he received the St. Clair Bayfield Award, The Common Pursuit, The Film Society, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, In a Pig's Valise, Trumbo, She Stoops to Conquer, The Merry Wives of Windsor and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, in 1992 he won an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. He has also appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in The School for Scandal and John Guare's Moon Over Miami.

In 1994, Lane voiced Timon, the meerkat, in Disney's blockbuster animated film The Lion King. In 1995 performed The Wizard of Oz in Concert at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT).


Lane won his second Tony Award for his portrayal of Max Bialystock in the blockbuster 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 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 2005, Lane rejoined his Producers co-star Matthew Broderick for a successful limited run of The Odd Couple.[13] In 2006, he took on a primarily dramatic role in a revival of Simon Gray's Butley, having played the role to great success at The Huntington Theater in Boston in 2003. 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 then played the President of the United States in the David Mamet political satire, November, directed by Joe Mantello, followed by the critically acclaimed revival of Waiting for Godot as Estragon (Outer Critics Circle nomination)[14] with Bill Irwin as Vladimir. He next starred in the musical version of The Addams Family as Gomez (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). In 2008, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.


Lane committed to starring in a revival of the Eugene O'Neill play The Iceman Cometh at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2012. Lane assumed the role of Hickey, with Brian Dennehy playing the role of Larry Slade. The production was directed by the Artistic Director of the Goodman Theatre Robert Falls. It received rave reviews, and became the most successful show in the history of the Goodman. It also won six Jeff Awards, including Best Ensemble, Director, and Production.[15] In the spring of 2013, he returned to Broadway in The Nance, a new play by Douglas Carter Beane; a Lincoln Center production directed by Jack O'Brien. He received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, and won the Outer Critics Circle Award and the 2013 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance. The play was also filmed for broadcast on PBS Live From Lincoln Center in 2014.

In autumn 2014 he was a part of an all-star ensemble for Terrence McNally's revised and updated It's Only a Play, with F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally, and Micah Stock; in February 2015 he reprised the role of "Hickey" in the Robert Falls production of The Iceman Cometh at Brooklyn Academy of Music.[16]

Personal life[edit]

A reporter for Us Weekly once asked Lane if he was gay; he replied, "I'm 40, single and work a lot in the musical theater. You do the math."[17] When, at age 21, he told his mother he was gay, she replied, "I would rather you were dead,"[18][3] to which he replied, "I knew you'd understand." Lane, who came out officially after the death of Matthew Shepard,[3] has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS,[19] and has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign,[20] Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,[21] and The Trevor Project[22] for his work in the LGBT community. Lane resides in New York City with long-time partner Devlin Elliott.[23]

Awards and nominations[edit]


He has received three Daytime Emmy nominations for George and Martha, Timon and Pumbaa and Teacher's Pet, 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 six Primetime Emmy Award nominations for guest appearances on Frasier, Mad About You, Modern Family, and The Good Wife. In 1999 he won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series.





Also the winner of 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Guys and Dolls, Love! Valour! Compassion!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers, and The Nance, and two GQ Man Of The Year Awards for Theater in 1997 and 2000


Television work[edit]

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, broadcast live on P.B.S., and the voices of the title characters in two Disney animated series, Teacher's Pet and Timon & Pumbaa, as well as George and Martha for HBO. He has also made guest appearances on Miami Vice, Mad About You, Sex and the City, Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Absolutely Fabulous, and 30 Rock, as well as recurring characters on Modern Family and The Good Wife.

He has hosted Saturday Night Live, The Tony Awards (once as host for the 50th anniversary telecast, and three as co-host, with Glenn Close and Gregory Hines; Rosie O'Donnell; and Matthew Broderick respectively), and appeared on Great Performances (Alice In Wonderland, The Last Mile, Guys and Dolls: Off The Record, My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, Recording The Producers: A Musical Romp With Mel Brooks, and as host of the 30th anniversary telecast, A Celebration in Song). 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; The Wizard of Oz in Concert; and A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa. His attempts at a regular series of his own, Encore! Encore! and Charlie Lawrence, were ratings disappointments.



1981Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the DollsStage ManagerTV
1987IronweedHarold Allen
1990The Lemon SistersCharlie Sorrell
1990Joe Versus the VolcanoBaw, Waponi Advance Man
1991He Said, She SaidWally Thurman
1991Frankie and JohnnyTim
1993Addams Family ValuesDesk Sergeant
1993Life with MikeyEd Chapman
1994The Lion KingTimonVoice
1995JeffreyFather Dan
1996The BirdcageAlbert Goldman
1996The Boys Next DoorNorman BulanskyTV
1997MouseHuntErnest "Ernie" Smuntz
1998The Lion King II: Simba's PrideTimonVoice
1999Stuart LittleSnowbellVoice
1999At First Sight'Phil
1999Get Bruce!HimselfDocumentary
1999George and MarthaGeorgeTV
2000Titan A.E.PreedVoice
2000Love's Labours LostCostard
2000Isn't She GreatIrving Mansfield
2000TrixieKirk Stans
2001Laughter on the 23rd FloorMax PrinceTV
2002Stuart Little 2SnowbellVoice
2002Nicholas NicklebyVincent Crummles
2002Austin Powers in GoldmemberMysterious Disco Man
2004The Lion King 1½TimonVoice
2004Teacher's PetSpot AKA Scott LeadreadyVoice
2004Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!Richard Levy the Driven
2005The ProducersMax Bialystock
2008Swing VoteArt Crumb
2009Astro BoyHammeggVoice
2010The NutcrackerUncle Albert
2012Mirror MirrorBrighton
2013The English TeacherMr. Kapinas




  1. ^ Nathan Lane
  2. ^ "Lane, Hamlisch among Theater Hall of Fame inductees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Vilanch, Bruce, (February 2, 1999) "The Many Faces of Nathan Lane, The Advocate. Retrieved August 10, 2013
  4. ^ "Nathan Lane Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Nathan Lane Biography". Film Reference. 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Wichtel, Alex (September 2, 2001) "'This Is It -- As Happy As i Get, Baby' Nathan Lane". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Tugend, Tom (December 30, 2005). "In Search of Nathan Lane's 'Jewish' Roots". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix 58 (14). Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  8. ^ Smith, David (November 7, 2004). "Bring on the clown". The Observer. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ St. Peter's Preparatory School website, "Nathan Lane, '74 Nominated for NJ Hall of Fame". Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  10. ^ Collins, Glenn (April 22, 1992) "AT LUNCH WITH: Nathan Lane; A 'Guy' Thrives on Broadway", The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  11. ^ TimeOut Chicago. (April 12, 2012) "Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy | Interview. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  12. ^ Groundlings Theatre and School. Patrick Stack. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  13. ^ Ben Brantley (October 28, 2005). "Theater Review- The Odd Couple". The New York Times ( Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  14. ^ Frey, Hillary (March 3, 2009). "Broadway Bows Down to Power Dames Fonda, Sarandon, Lansbury". The New York Observer ( Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Jeff Awards". Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  16. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (February 12, 2015). "Nathan Lane is a revelation in drinking drama ‘Iceman Cometh’". New York Post. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Hisock, John (December 19, 2005). "Springtime for The Producers". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  18. ^ Dezell, Maureen (October 19, 2003). "Nathan Lane goes beyond Broadway". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 1, 2009. 
  19. ^ For example, see their annual report archive.
  20. ^ a b "Lane to Be Honored by Human Rights Campaign". Back Stage. January 30, 2007. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew (April 3, 2002) "GLAAD Honors Glenn Close, Nathan Lane & The Invention of Love". Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Trevor NY Honoring Nathan Lane". The Trevor Project. 2008. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 26, 2014). "Nathan Lane and Partner Devlin Elliott". Playbill. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  24. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew."Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, 'Pippin', 'Matilda', 'Vanya and Sonia' Win Drama Desk Awards", May 19, 2013
  25. ^ Mervyn Rothstein (April 20, 2012). "Nathan Lane Scales a Theatrical Everest in Chicago's The Iceman Cometh". Playbill ( Retrieved June 27, 2012. 

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