Biographical Information:

Dates: 1954-
Dates in Ridgefield: current resident

actor, playwright, comedian, gay activist, Humanitas Prize recipient, Tony Award recipient

Actor, playwright, comedian, and gay activist Harvey Fierstein added good humor and social enlightenment to the last decade of 20th Century Ridgefield. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1954, Mr. Fierstein became in 1983 the only person to win Tony awards as both the playwright and the actor in the same production. The acclaimed Torch Song Trilogy, which premiered off-Broadway, in 1981, is about a homosexual man struggling to live in New York. "Everyone wants what Arnold wants, an apartment they can afford, a job they don’t hate too much, a chance to go to the store once in a while, and someone to share it with," he once said of the protagonist. A year after Torch Song, he won a third Tony for his Broadway adaptation of La Cage aux Folles, and in 2003 he starred in Hair Spray, for which he won a Tony for best leading actor in a musical. Mr. Fierstein has appeared in many movies and on television, where he has both written and starred in productions; he won an Emmy nomination for a part he played in the TV series, Cheers. His film credits include Ms. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Garbo Talks and Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. He wrote the 1999 HBO animated feature film, The Sissy Duckling, which in July 2000 won a prestigious Humanitas Prize, given to stories that celebrate, affirm, probe, and reveal the humanity in people. He encourages and celebrates human individuality. Mr. Fierstein has crusaded for gay rights and for safe sex – his play, Safe Sex, appeared on Broadway in 1987. As a Ridgefielder, he has spearheaded efforts to help AIDS patients, particularly at Bread & Roses, a hospice in Georgetown. He has also led gay pride celebrations here, and has periodically contributed lively and incisive letters to The Ridgefield Press on gay issues, such as when several letter writers used Scripture to maintain that homosexuality is wrong. "Quoting Scripture to cover up prejudice is like spraying perfume on a dung heap," Mr. Fierstein wrote in response. "In time, the truth will set itself free."

Titles:
La Cage aux Folles (book), 1954
Torch Song Trilogy (play and screenplay), 1979; book, 1988
Harvey Firestein’s Safe Sex (book), 1988
The Sissy Duckling, 2005

--Source: Jack Sanders’ “Notable Ridgefielders”; www.goodreads.com; Amazon