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December 03, 1984 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-12-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

46

Friday, December 7, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

ENGRAVING WHILE YOU WAIT

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41

VIMP C

Joel Grey as George M. Cohan during the revival tour of "George M."

410 é

BY MICHAEL ELKIN
Special to The Jewish News

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\

Joel Grey is a cast of thousands.
He is at once the demonic emcee of
Cabaret, the happy-go-lucky
Goodtime Charley and th
energized song-and-dance man
original Yankee Doodle Dandy
George M. Cohan of George M.
But that is on the stage. Once
the makeup comes off, Grey is a
different character completely.
He puts on a face remarkably un-
lined for a 52-year-old imp whose
credits suggest he has been per-
forming forever. The wire-rim
glasses, the sprightly behavior
and devilish smile give a kick in
the pants to the aging process.
Joel Grey, rumor has it, stole his
cousin Dorian's portrait and
stashed it in the attic of some
Broadway theater.
But that, alas, is nonsense. This
Joel Grey is not a Grey at all. He
was born a Katz: just ask his
father Mickey, whose Yiddish
renditions of popular songs
(David Crockett) still bring a
smile to an interviewer's face.
Though he headlined a revival
tour ofGeorge M. earlier this year,
Grey is admittedly interested in
new material. His one-man show/
Belong Here, recently played the
Sands in Atlantic City. It was a
musical raft trip back to the
entertainer's roots, one filled with
a particular sense of Yiddishkeit.
Grey's future, however, is filled
with Greek merriment. "I'm going
to be directing Anthony Quinn in
the national tour of Zorba," he
said of the show that is mesmeriz-
ing Broadway audiences nightly.
It is his first attempt at direct-
ing, although for years he has
steered himself in the right direc-
tion. With a career that has in-
cluded a Tony and Oscar for the
stage and film versions of Cabaret
and lauded film roles including
Buffalo Bill and the Indians. Grey

has learned that he is his own best
career adviser.
Not that others haven't lent a
hand or two. After all, it wasn't
totally his idea to star as Pud at
the age of 9 in On Borrowed Time
at the Cleveland Playhouse. And
he had a friend in the business -
his father - when he performed
later in the Mickey Katz stage re-
vue. Grey was 16 when Eddie
Cantor discovered him and put
him on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
There were times, however,
when Grey considered a more
formal schooling in the arts. "I
had wanted to go to college, but
this unique opportunity came up,"
Grey recalled. That opportunity
was a starring role at a leading
Chicago nightclub.
Did his parents object when he
decided to look for a room in
Chicag rather than dorm space in
some university town? "No," he
smiled. "They didn't want me to
go to college.
"There were times when I won-
dered if what I did was the right
thing. But I see now it's really a
blessing to know what you want to
do at an early age."
His daughter, Jennifer, 24, fig-
ures she wants to be an actress;
son Jim, 19, is still sorting out
what he wants to do.
As a performer who grew up in a
performing family, Grey would
readily offer some advice - if
asked. "rm not too thrilled Jen-
nifer wants to be an actress," he
said. "I know the sacrifices, the
pitfalls - especially for a
woman."
He is not bothered my much. As
far as second-guessing his own
career moves, Grey is not one to
puzzle over his past. "No," he said
with a grin, , "I've never been one
to say, `What if . . "

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