Nathan Lane
Birth Date:
February 3, 1956
Birth Place:
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
Famous for:
His role as the flamboyant drag queen in 'The Birdcage' (1996)
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The Producers


Two-time Tony winner Nathan Lane became a Broadway star while appearing in the plays "Present Laughter" (1982-1983), "Merlin" (1983), "On Borrowed Time" (1991-1992), "Guys and Dolls" (1992-1995), "Love! Valor! Compassion!" (1995), "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1996-1998), "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (2000), "The Producers" (2001-2007), "The Frogs" (2004), "The Odd Couple" (2005-2006), "Butley" (2006-2007) and "November" (2008).

On the big screen, Lane is widely recognized for his role of flamboyant drag queen and lover of Robin Williams' character in the film “The Birdcage” (1996). He also starred in such films as "Ironweed" (1987), "Life with Mikey" (1993), "Addams Family Values" (1993), "The Lion King" (1994; voice of Timon the Meerkat), "Jeffrey" (1995), "Mousehunt" (1997), "At First Sight" (1999), "Stuart Little" (1999) and "Stuart Little 2" (2002), "Love's Labor’s Lost" (2000), "Titan A.E." (2000), "Trixie" (2000), "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002), "Nicholas Nickleby" (2002), "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" (2004) and "The Producers" (2005). Next, the 5' 5" openly gay actor will play lead roles in the upcoming films "Swing Vote," "Astro Boy," and "Nutcracker: The Untold Story."

"I'm one of those old-fashioned homosexuals, not one of the newfangled ones who are born joining parades." Nathan Lane

Lane, who is known for his outrageous comedic performances, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January 2006 alongside his "Producers" co-star Matthew Broderick.

Joseph Lane

Childhood and Family:

In Jersey City, New Jersey, Joseph Lane was born on February 3, 1956, to Irish American Catholic parents Daniel Lane, an alcoholic truck driver and promising tenor who went blind and died when Lane was 11, and Nora Lane (born in 1915; died in 2000), a housewife and secretary who reportedly was a manic depressive. He has two brothers, Robert and Daniel.

After graduating from Roman Catholic schools in Jersey City, Lane was offered a scholarship to study theater at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia. However, the scholarship Lane won didn't cover enough of the expenses for him to stay, so Lane went back home. He later moved to New York.

Because there had been another actor named Joseph Lane, Lane, who was named after his uncle, a Jesuit priest, changed his name to Nathan after the character of Nathan Detroit from the Broadway musical "Guys and Dolls." Coincidentally, he later played that role in the successful 1992 revival of "Guys and Dolls" on Broadway.

Lane, who told his mother he was gay when he was 21 and officially "came out" as a homosexual in a 1999 interview with Bruce Villanch of The Advocate, has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He was honored by the Human Rights Campaign, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and The Trevor Project for his work. He co-hosted an AIDS benefit concert called Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on January 10, 1998, with Madeline Kahn.

He now lives in New York with his long-time partner. He remains very good friends with Matthew Broderick, Mel Brooks and Ernie Sabella

The Birdcage


Named Best Actor in 1974 by the St Peter's Prepatory School, Nathan Lane was offered a drama scholarship at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, but found out that it wasn't enough to cover his daily expenses. He then worked a string of odd jobs to support himself.

The aspiring actor, who made his professional acting debut in the play "Jerz" in 1976, moved to Los Angeles in 1980 with his actor friend Patrick Stack, with who he formed the comedy team “Stack and Lane.” Following a three-year stand-up comedy stint in nightclubs, Lane landed an agent and made appearances on the long-running talk show “The Merv Griffin Show.”

Lane made his TV acting debut in the television movie "Jacqueline Susann's 'Valley of the Dolls'" (1981), an updated version of the Jacqueline Susann best selling 1960's novel. The following year, he made his Broadway debut in a revival of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter" (1982), for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play. He also landed his first TV series regular role on NBC’s sitcom "One of the Boys" (1982). Unfortunately, the show was canceled after only 13 episodes.

In 1983, Lane returned to Broadway as the dimwitted Prince Fergus, opposite popular illusionist Doug Henning, in "Merlin," which was directed by Ivan Reitman and featured Chita Rivera and a young Christian Slater. One of the most notorious, expensive flops in Broadway history, the play opened on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on February 13, 1983, and closed on August 7, 1983.

About working in the Broadway flop "Merlin," Lane later commented, "Doug Henning's greatest magic trick was making the audience disappear."

After winning a St. Clair Bayfield award for Shakespearean Performance for his appearance in William Shakespeare's comedy "Measure For Measure" in 1986, Lane made his feature acting debut in Argentine-born Brazilian director Hector Babenco's film "Ironweed" (1987), which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by William Kennedy.

He returned to the stage in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound" (1987) and headlined Jon Robin Baitz's first full-length play, "The Film Society" (1988). In 1989, Nathan starred in Terrence McNally's "The Lisbon Traviata," which won him a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

In the early '90s, Lane acted in a revival of Terrence McNally's comedy play "Bad Habits" and was seen in "Frankie and Johnny.” He was reunited with George C. Scott in a 1991 Broadway revival of Paul Osborn's 1938 play, "On Borrowed Time," in which he portrayed the fedora-wearing Mr. Brink, and with McNally for the hit 1991 Drama Desk Award-winning Off-Broadway play "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," in which he played a gay construction worker.

1992 saw Lane star as Nathan Detroit, opposite Ernie Sabella's Harry the Horse, in Broadway’s revival of the musical "Guys and Dolls," for which he earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

The following year, Nathan briefly appeared in Barry Sonnenfeld's Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated film starring Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christina Ricci "Addams Family Values." He was also seen in James Lapine's comedy movie "Life With Mikey" (1993). On stage, he portrayed the role of Sid Caesar-like Max Prince on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor."

In McNally's Tony-winning "Love! Valour! Compassion!" (1994), which was helmed by Joe Mantello, Lane delivered an outstanding performance as a caustic witted gay man coping with HIV and looking for love. He took home a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play and an Obie Award for Best Ensemble Acting.

He later commented about his performance in the play, saying "It was the best part I've done in a play. What can I say?"

Lane provided the voice for Timon the meerkat in Disney's Academy Award-winning animated feature film "The Lion King" (1994). He later reprised the vocals in the animated TV version of "Timon and Pumbaa," which won him a Daytime Emmy Award in 1996 for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program. He would also voice Timon for the straight-to-video "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride" (1998).

Meanwhile, Lane had a hilarious cameo appearance in the romantic comedy movie directed by Christopher Ashley, "Jeffrey" (1995), and played the Cowardly Lion in the TNT production "The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True" (1995). He also received an Emmy nomination in 1995 for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Phil in the episode "Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice..." of the NBC sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer, "Frasier."

Along with Gregory Hines and Glenn Close, Lane served as one of the co-hosts of "The 49th Annual Tony Awards" in 1995. Afterward, he starred in Mike Nichols' Americanized version of the 1978 film "La Cage aux Folles," "The Birdcage" (1996), in which he played Albert Goldman (aka. Starina). His performance won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast and an American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role). He was also nominated for Golden Globe's Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, MTV Movie Award's Best On-Screen Duo (with Robin Williams), and Golden Satellite Award's Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

In 1996, Lane hosted "The 50th Annual Tony Awards" and won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for starring as Pseudolus in a Broadway revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” His work in the play also won a Drama Desk: for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.

Lane starred in Gore Verbinski's slapstick/dark comedy film "Mousehunt" (1997) and the NBC low-rating sitcom "Encore! Encore!" (1998). He was also reunited with Mantello for Jon Robin Baitz's Off-Broadway play "Mizlansky/Zilinsky, or Schmucks."

In 1998, Lane was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Professor Twilley in the episode "Good Old Reliable Nathan" for the sitcom starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, "Mad About You." The following year, he was featured in Irwin Winkler's romantic drama film starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino, "At First Sight." He also voiced the character of Snowbell, the fluffy white Persian cat, in the commercial blockbuster "Stuart Little" (voiced by Michael J Fox). By this time, he had made a series of TV commercials for NyQuil, in which he would later be succeeded by Sabella. He also voiced George, opposite Andrea Martin's Martha, on the animated children's television show "George and Martha" (1999), which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2000 for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program and a People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series.

Entering the new millennium, Lane portrayed the clown Costard in Kenneth Brannagh's film version of one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, "Love's Labor’s Lost," voiced Preed, a wisecracking, English-accented, rat-like humanoid, in Don Bluth and Gary Goldman's animated feature "Titan A.E.," and played an alcoholic entertainer in Alan Rudolph's crime/comedy starring Emily Watson, "Trixie," which all opened theatrically in June.

During this time, he also provided the voice of Spot, a talking canine who disguises himself as a boy named Scott in order to go to school where he becomes "Teacher's Pet" (ABC), on an animated series from Disney of the same name. His work in the show won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program in 2001.

Returning to Broadway, Lane headlined a revival of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's comedy classic "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (2000). He also starred opposite Bette Midler in "Isn't She Great" (2000), and co-hosted "The 54th Annual Tony Awards.” Additionally, he appeared in magazine advertisements for the phone company You Inc.

In 2001, Lane reprised the role of Max Prince in Showtime's "Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor" and starred alongside Matthew Broderick in the stage musical adaptation of "The Producers.”

Afterward, he reprised the voice of the cat Snowbell in the sequel "Stuart Little 2" (2002) and won a National Board of Review (NBR) Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble for his performance in Douglas McGrath's drama film based on the Charles Dickens novel, "Nicholas Nickleby" (2002).

In 2004, Lane portrayed Josh Duhamel's agent, Richard Levy, in Robert Luketic's romantic comedy film "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton," voiced the characters of Spot Helperman and Scott Leadready in "Disney's Teacher's Pet: The Movie," and starred as Dionysus in the Broadway musical “The Frogs.” He also replaced Richard Dreyfuss in the London production of "The Producers," but had to leave the show 2 weeks before the end of his contract because of a back injury.

The following year saw Lane reunited with Matthew Broderick to play Oscar and Felix in the Broadway revival of "The Odd Couple," and reprise the role of Max Bialystock in the film version of "The Producers," which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. He also played Lou Nuncle in the "Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams" play by Terrence McNally in New York City, which handed him a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

On January 9, 2006, Lane and Matthew Broderick were each awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a joint ceremony. Lane subsequently starred on Broadway in the title role in Simon Gray's "Butley" (2006) and was cast in David Mamet's "November" (2007).

In January 2008, Lane played Charles Smith in the "November" play by David Mamet at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Moviegoers will soon catch him starring in the upcoming films "Swing Vote," a comedy film directed by Joshua Michael Stern starring Kevin Costner, and "Astro Boy," a computer-animated 3-D film. He is also working on a period fantasy movie by director Andrei Konchalovsky, "Nutcracker: The Untold Story," in which he will co-star with John Turturro and Elle Fanning.


  • Olivier: Best Actor in a Musical, "The Producers," 2005

  • DVDX: Best Animated Character Performance (Voice and Animation in a DVD Premiere Movie), "The Lion King 1½," 2005

  • National Board of Review (NBR): Best Acting by an Ensemble, "Nicholas Nickleby," 2002

  • Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, "Teacher's Pet," 2001

  • Tony: Best Actor (Musical), "The Producers," 2001

  • Drama Desk: Outstanding Actor in a Musical, "The Producers," 2001

  • People's Choice: Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series, 1999

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast, "The Birdcage," 1997

  • American Comedy: Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role), "The Birdcage," 1997

  • Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, "Timon and Pumbaa," 1996

  • Tony: Best Actor (Musical), "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," 1996

  • Drama Desk: Outstanding Actor in a Musical, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," 1996

  • Drama Desk: Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, "Love! Valour! Compassion!," 1995

  • Obie: Ensemble Acting, "Love! Valour! Compassion!," 1995

  • Drama Desk: Outstanding Actor in a Musical, "Guys and Dolls," 1992

  • Obie: Sustained Excellence of Performance, 1992

  • Drama Desk: Outstanding Actor in a Play, "The Lisbon Traviata," 1990

  • St. Clair Bayfield: Shakespearean Performance, "Measure For Measure," 1986

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SP_COP - May 05, 2014 -
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SP_COP - November 08, 2013 -
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SP_COP - September 25, 2013 -
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© Retna