Harvey Forbes Fierstein (born June 6, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American actor and playwright. He made his name with his stage work — he wrote and starred in Torch Song Trilogy (and later adapted it into The Film of the Play) and the book of La Cage aux folles. He was also Hairspray's original Edna Turnblad. He also has a significant number of film and TV credits, including Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day.
Fierstein is openly gay, and has advocated for LGBT+ and AIDS visibility, awareness, and representation. He was the first openly gay actor to play a principal gay character on TV, on the shortlived sitcom Daddy's Girls, and has played several gay roles since.
He is also known for his signature raspy voice, which is because his vocal cords have an overdeveloped vestibular fold. (Ironically, he was a boy soprano prior to hitting puberty.) You may have heard him as Yao in Mulan or as Gourmand in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. He also wrote the children's book The Sissy Duckling.
- Torch Song Trilogy (1988): Arnold Beckoff
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): Frank Hillard
- Bullets over Broadway (1994): Sid Loomis
- Daddy's Girls (1994): Dennis Sinclair
- Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde (1995): Yves DuBois
- Independence Day (1996): Marty Gilbert
- Elmo Saves Christmas (1996): The Easter Bunny
- Kull the Conqueror (1997): Juba
- Playing Mona Lisa (2000): Bennett
- Death to Smoochy (2002): Merv Green
- The Year Without a Santa Clausnote (2006): Heat Miser
- The Times of Harvey Milk (1984): Narrator
- Mulan (1998) and Mulan II (2004): Yao
- The Sissy Duckling (1999): Elmer the Duckling
- Foodfight! (2012): Fat Cat Burglar
- Animal Crackers (2017): Esmerelda
- Big Mouth (2018-2020): Jerome
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2020): The Gourmand
- Torch Song Trilogy: Arnold Beckoff
- Hairspray: Edna Turnblad
- Fiddler on the Roof: Tevye
- A Catered Affair: Winton
- La Cage aux folles: Albin
- Torch Song Trilogy
- La Cage aux Folles
- Kinky Boots
- The Wiz Live
- Hairspray Live (also reprised the role of Edna)
Tropes about his career:
- Camp Gay: Many of his characters (Arnold Beckoff, Frank Hillard, the Gay Best Friend in Playing Mona Lisa) have been of the flamboyant and dramatic type.
- Queer Character, Queer Actor: Fierstein is openly gay, and became known for playing the flamboyant gay man Arnold Beckoff on Torch Song Trilogy. Some of his roles since (such as Daddy's Girls) have been gay men as well.
- Playing Against Type: Normally cast as outwardly sympathetic/comic relief characters who more often than not are aligned with the protagonists, or at the very least not completely or obviously morally bankrupt, it's therefore somewhat of a shock to see Harvey take on an unambiguously villainous turn as a murderous and thoroughly corrupt mob boss who thinks nothing of calling a hit on people unwilling to toe the line in Death to Smoochy.
- Smoky Voice: Though his voice isn't the result of cigarettes, works will occasionally stunt-cast him for the smoky rasp. How I Met Your Mother had him voice Lily when she becomes a smoker and in Cheers he played a smoker ex of Rebecca's.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: He's appeared on Sesame Street thrice.