The versatile Harvey Fierstein is the proud winner of four Tony Awards, each representing a different category: Best Book of a Musical in 1984 for La Cage aux Folles (a show that's picked up 11 nominations in 2010 for its second Broadway revival), Best Actor in a Musical for Hairspray in 2003; and two for his seminal dramedy Torch Song Trilogy. Here Fierstein, who just wrapped touring the country in Fiddler on the Roof, looks back at 1983, the year he began his unique Tony streak.
Which year did you win your first Tony?
1893...I mean, 1983
For which role and show?
Torch Song Trilogy was the show, and the first award I was handed was for writing it. The second (that same night) was for acting. Arnold was the role.
Where were the awards held?
The Uris Theatre, now known as the Gershwin.
I don't remember, but Diahann Carroll handed me the first Tony, and Luke Skywalker gave me the second one.
What did you wear?
I wore a tux from Barney's.
Who was sitting next to you?
My BF Scott
Who did you think would win your category?
I was so new to it all, I had no idea what to expect from anything. I was truly young and simple.
What was the first thing that ran through your mind when they said your name?
I thought that Diahann might have changed the name in the envelope since she was working for the same producer who did Torch Song Trilogy.
Did you forget to thank anyone?
I thanked the cast, but not by name. I was too scared I'd forget someone.
Did you cry?
If you could relive that night, would you change anything?
I might have sat with a different boyfriend.
Who were you most surprised to hear from after the win?
The NYC Board of Education. After having my name on a waiting list for seven years, they finally came up with a teaching assignment for me in the Bronx.
Did winning a Tony change your life? How?
It changed my name to "Tony Award winner."
What's your biggest memory of the night?
My brother ordered a birthday cake for me to be served at the Tony dinner just in case I didn't win the awards. Having a brother like him is the best award I ever got.
What's the best piece of advice you can offer for getting through Tony night?
Bring along something to snack on during the awards, but don't bring chocolate because it will melt under the heat of the lights.
Where do you keep your Tony?
On a shelf in my office.