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LGBT History Month profile: Emmy, Tony award winning actor Nathan Lane

Equality Forum
Sunday, October 20, 2013
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Nathan Lane, Actor
b. February 3, 1956

“I think it is healthy to speak the truth, and be who you are, and be proud of that.”

Nathan Lane is an award-winning film, television and theater actor. He has received three Emmys, two Tony Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Nathan Lane

Nathan Lane

Born Joseph Lane in Jersey City, New Jersey, to an Irish Catholic family, he changed his name to Nathan after the character Nathan Detroit in the musical “Guys and Dolls” — a role he later played on Broadway.

After graduating from a Catholic high school, Lane moved to New York City, where he performed as a stand-up comic. In 1982, he was cast in his first television sitcom, “One of the Boys.” The following year, he landed his breakout role in a Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter.”

Through the 1990s, Lane appeared in a series of successful Broadway shows, including Terrence McNally’s gay-themed play “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”

In 1996, he starred in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” for which he received his first Tony Award. The following year, he was honored along with his fellow cast members with a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for “The Birdcage.”

Called “our greatest comic stage star” by the New York Times, Lane won his second Tony Award for his turn as Max Bialystock in “The Producers” in 1995. He reprised the role in the film version and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance.

When Lane came out to his mother, she responded, “I’d rather you were dead,” to which he replied, “I knew you’d understand.”

He came out publicly soon after Matthew Shepard’s death, and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality. He was recognized by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project for his work on behalf of the LGBT community.

In 2006, Lane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Two years later, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Lane and his long-term partner, Devlin Elliott, reside in New York.

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