Leonard Frey

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Leonard Frey
Born (1938-09-04)September 4, 1938
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died August 24, 1988(1988-08-24) (aged 49)
New York, New York, U.S.
Resting place
Occupation Actor

Leonard Frey (September 4, 1938 – August 24, 1988) was an American actor.


Frey was born in Brooklyn, New York. After attending James Madison High School, he studied art at Cooper Union, with designs on being a painter, before switching to acting at New York City's prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse under famed acting coach Sanford Meisner, and pursued a career in theater instead.

Frey, who was openly gay,[1] received critical acclaim in 1968 for his performance as Harold, a bitter, pockmarked gay man who dreads his birthday in off-Broadway's The Boys in the Band. This landmark play introduced mainstream audiences to the culture of gay men who supported each other, providing friendship, family and, when necessary, reality checks. He would go on to appear alongside the rest of the original cast in the 1970 film version, directed by William Friedkin.

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 include 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 earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Motel the tailor in the film Fiddler on the Roof (he had appeared in the original Broadway production as Mendel, the rabbi's son). His other film credits included roles in The Magic Christian (1969), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), Where the Buffalo Roam (1980), Up the Academy (1980), and Tattoo (1981).

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, Moonlighting, and Murder, She Wrote, as well as a co-starring role as the villainous Parker Tillman on the short-lived ABC western comedy Best of the West.

On The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode entitled "Ted Baxter's Famous Broadcaster's School," Frey plays the lone student within a sea of empty chairs, and steals the scene, as he insists the main characters "lecture" just to him, even though they were expecting hundreds.

Frey died of an AIDS-related illness in New York on August 24, 1988.[2]

His final role was Walter Witherspoon in the ABC's Disney television movie Bride of Boogedy.


  1. ^ http://www.wisconsingazette.com/dvds/two-very-different-styles-of-1971-film-making.html
  2. ^ Mel Gussow (August 25, 1988). "Leonard Frey, Actor, Dies at 49; Was in 'Fiddler' and Other Films". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-04. Leonard Frey, an actor admired for his vivid and often flamboyant performances, died of AIDS yesterday at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. He was 49 years old. ... 

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