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Leonard Frey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Leonard Frey
Born(1938-09-04)September 4, 1938
New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 1988(1988-08-24) (aged 49)
New York City, U.S.
EducationNeighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre
Years active1959–1988

Leonard Frey (September 4, 1938 – August 24, 1988) was an American actor. Frey received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1971 musical film Fiddler on the Roof. He made his stage debut in an Off-Broadway production of Little Mary Sunshine and received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for The National Health.

Life and career[edit]

Frey was born in Brooklyn, New York.[1] After attending James Madison High School,[1] he studied art at Cooper Union, with designs on becoming a painter, then switched to acting at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse[1] under acting coach Sanford Meisner, and pursued a career in theater.

Frey received critical acclaim in 1968 for his performance as Harold in off-Broadway's The Boys in the Band.[1] He appeared with the rest of the original cast in the 1970 film version, directed by William Friedkin.[2]

Frey was nominated for a 1975 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in The National Health. Other stage credits included revivals of The Time of Your Life (1969), Beggar on Horseback (1970), Twelfth Night (1972) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1980). He also played Clare Quilty in the Alan Jay Lerner musical Lolita, My Love which closed, before reaching Broadway, in 1971.

Frey was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Motel the tailor in Norman Jewison's 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof (he had appeared in the original Broadway musical production as Mendel, the rabbi's son). Other film credits included roles in The Magic Christian (1969), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), Where the Buffalo Roam (1980),[3] Up the Academy (1980),[3] and Tattoo (1981).[3]

Frey's television credits included appearances on Hallmark Hall of Fame; Medical Center; Mission Impossible; Eight Is Enough; Quincy, M.E.; Hart to Hart; Barney Miller (1975 episode: 'The Escape Artist' & 1980 episode: 'Vanished', part 2); Moonlighting; Murder, She Wrote; and the miniseries Testimony of Two Men, as well as a co-starring role as the villainous Parker Tillman on the short-lived ABC western comedy Best of the West,[3] and Raymond Holyoke on Mr. Smith, which ran for 13 episodes on NBC in fall 1983. He also appeared as a panelist on the game shows Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, Body Language and Super Password.

On The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode titled "Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcaster's School," airing February 22, 1975,[4] Frey played the role of “The Student.”[4] Frey's final role was Walter Witherspoon in the television movie Bride of Boogedy.


Frey, who was gay, died at age 49 from the complications of AIDS in New York on August 24, 1988, 11 days before his 50th birthday.[1]

Award & nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1970 Laurel Awards Star of Tomorrow, Male The Boys in the Band 4th place
1971 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Fiddler on the Roof Nominated
1975 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play The National Health Nominated


Year Title Role Notes
1963 The Fat Black Pussycat
1966 Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake Celebrant
1969 The Magic Christian Laurence Faggot
1970 The Boys in the Band Harold
1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Guiles
1971 Fiddler on the Roof Motel
1980 Where the Buffalo Roam Desk Clerk
1980 Up the Academy Keck
1981 Tattoo Halsey
1982 The Sound of Murder


  1. ^ a b c d e Gussow, Mel (August 25, 1988). "Leonard Frey, Actor, Dies at 49; Was in 'Fiddler' and Other Films". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (18 March 1970). "The Boys in the Band (1970)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
  3. ^ a b c d "Leonard Frey Filmography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2015. Archived from the original on May 19, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Season 5, Episode 23 Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcasters School". TV Guide.

External links[edit]