Joel Grey, the Broadway star known for his role as Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret,” has announced he is gay in an interview with People magazine published Wednesday. The 82-year-old said that his sexuality was no secret to his family, friends and colleagues but he had never spoken about it publicly before.
"I don't like labels," Grey told People, "but if you have to put a label on it, I'm a gay man."
Grey, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, said it took time to embrace his sexuality. When he discovered he was attracted to men, he kept his feelings a secret for many years.
He told People he remembered "hearing the grown-ups talk in the next room, my mother included, talking derisively about 'fairies' and men being dragged off to jail and even worse for being who they were." Around that time he said, "I came to realize, along with being attracted to girls, I had similar feelings for boys."
He was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years. The couple had two children.
"I feel very happy for my dad that he has come to a point in his life where he feels safe and comfortable enough to declare himself in a public way as a gay man," Grey’s daughter, Jennifer, told People. She notes, “No matter what age, no matter how long it takes, to finally be free of the lies or half-truths, it is freedom."
The People interview includes words of support from his “Cabaret” co-star Liza Minnelli and close friend Bernadette Peters.
Grey won a Tony Award in 1966 for his role as Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret.” In 1973 he won an Oscar for the same role in a film version of the show. He has also starred in Broadway shows “Wicked,” “Chicago” and “Anything Goes.” In 2011 he directed the play “The Normal Heart,” which won three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play.