Tovah Feldshuh

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Tovah Feldshuh
Born Terri Sue Feldshuh
(1953-12-27) December 27, 1953 (age 61)[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer, playwright
Years active 1973–present
Spouse(s) Andrew Harris Levy
Children 2

Terri Sue "Tovah" Feldshuh (born December 27, 1953) is an American actress, singer and playwright. She has been a Broadway star for more than four decades, earning four Tony Award nominations. She has also received two Emmy Award nominations for Holocaust and Law & Order, and appeared in such films as A Walk on the Moon, She's Funny That Way and Kissing Jessica Stein. She currently appears on The Walking Dead in the role of Deanna Monroe.

Early life[edit]

Feldshuh was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the daughter of Lillian (née Kaplan) and Sidney Feldshuh, who was a lawyer.[2] Her brother David Feldshuh is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright of Miss Evers' Boys.

She was raised in Scarsdale, New York, an affluent community in Westchester County, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. She started her career under British director Michael Langham at the Guthrie Theater where she was awarded the McKnight Fellowship in Acting.[3]


Feldshuh appeared on the stage under the name "Terri Fairchild" before deciding to incorporate her Hebrew name and her original surname as her professional name, Tovah Feldshuh. She said of her name changes: "I fell in love with a Christian boy, Michael Fairchild, who didn't want to kiss a Terri Sue. He said: 'Terri Sue doesn't fit you at all. What's that other name of yours? Tovah? Now that's a name!"[4] She has joked[when?] that she could have changed her name to "Goody Two-Shoes," since "Tovah" is Hebrew for "good," whilst "Feldshuh" translates from German as "field shoe."

She made her Broadway debut in the short-lived 1973 musical Cyrano starring Christopher Plummer. She appeared in the title role in Yentl both off-Broadway at the Chelsea Theater Center and later on Broadway. Both productions are detailed in the book, Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater, which describes tensions between Feldshuh and director Robert Kalfin over the play's interpretation.[5]

Other Broadway credits include Saravà, Lend Me a Tenor, and Golda's Balcony, William Gibson's work about the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Golda's Balcony set a record as the longest-running one-woman play in Broadway history on January 2, 2005.[6]

Feldshuh made her cabaret debut at the Algonquin Hotel Oak Room with her act, Tovah: Crossovah! From Broadway to Cabaret, which was followed by Tovah: Out of Her Mind! She took the latter show on the road to Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Sydney. The West End production sold out an eight-week run at the Duke of York's Theatre. The Boston Globe selected her as "Best Cabaret Artist of 2000."[7] In 2000, she co-wrote and performed in a one-woman play about actress Tallulah Bankhead titled Tallulah Hallelujah![8]

In 1973, Feldshuh appeared on television in a supporting role in Scream, Pretty Peggy. In 1976, she also had a supporting role in "Ryan's Hope," and in the following year, 1977, she played Katharine Hepburn in The Amazing Howard Hughes. However, Feldshuh came to international prominence as Helena Slomova in the 1978 mini-series Holocaust, based on Gerald Green's novel. Between 1991 and 2007, Feldshuh had a recurring role as defense attorney Danielle Melnick on Law & Order.

Feldshuh's feature film appearances have included Lady in the Water, The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal, A Walk on the Moon, Happy Accidents, Brewster's Millions, The Idolmaker, The Blue Iguana, A Day in October, The Believer, Love Comes Lately, Just My Luck, and Kissing Jessica Stein. She also appeared as Ruthie in the 2004 film The Tollbooth.

Feldshuh appeared in Goyband, co-starring Adam Pascal, Amy Davidson, Cris Judd, Dean Edwards, Tibor Feldman and Natasha Lyonne. She was also slated to star in the psychological thriller Acts of Mercy. She returned to Broadway in the Dan Gordon play Irena's Vow in March 2009. She had appeared off-Broadway in this play in September 2008.[9] In 2009, Feldshuh recorded the song "Bein Nahar Prat" for the organization Pioneers For A Cure, with the proceeds benefiting Ellen's Run.

In 2012, Feldshuh performed as Mama Rose in a revival of Gypsy. Also in 2012, she appeared as Mossad agent Rivka in the Covert Affairs episode "Wishful Beginnings".

It was announced at the September 21, 2013, Broadway performance of Pippin that Andrea Martin's last performance as Berthe (Pippin's grandmother) would be the following day and that Feldshuh would be subsequently taking over the role.

In 2014, she starred in Gypsy at the Bristol Riverside Theatre as Mama Rose[10][11] and in the film She's Funny That Way.

In February of 2015, she performed a one-woman show which she called Aging Is Optional at 54 Below.[12] In March of 2015, she made her debut in a starring role on AMC's highly rated The Walking Dead. Feldshuh had never seen the show before being cast as former politician Deanna Monroe, whose character Feldshuh says she based on Hillary Clinton.[13]

She also appeared in the six-part miniseries Flesh and Bone, which was slated to debut in 2015 on Starz.

Personal life[edit]

Feldshuh married New York attorney Andrew Harris Levy in 1977. Actress Ruth Gordon was her maid of honor. They have a son, Garson, an economist and graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities; and a daughter, Amanda, who graduated from MIT. When Amanda married in 2014, Feldshuh gave her the advice, “You know how to have a successful marriage? Shut one eye, and don't leave. Some of it's fun and some of it isn't. It can be challenging, but you do not leave the field of play.”[4][14] Her nephew, Noah Feldshuh, is a member of alternative rock band X Ambassadors.[15]

For her charity work, she is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award, Hadassah's Myrtle Wreath, and the Israel Peace Medal. The National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored her with the 2002 Jewish Image Award and the Performing Arts award in 2006.[16][17]

When doing research for her role as Irene Gut Opdyke in the play Irena's Vow, Feldshuh traveled to Borshchiv, Ukraine, and discovered that her own ancestor, Moishe Feldshuh, had lived there in the early 20th century.[4]

In March 2015, Feldshuh hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro with her son. She told Variety she was inspired after the 2014 death of her mother at age 103, and her own athletic role in Pippin, in which she had to swing on a trapeze. "I really do feel we're only in this body once," she said. "I just want enough money to buy experience. I can forego a dress, but the idea of taking a trip and trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro, or going on the Trans-Siberian railroad, or tracking lemurs in Madagascar — these things are very exciting to me. To see the world until I leave my own body. It’s now or not at all."[13]


Year Title Role Director Notes
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy Agnes Thornton Gordon Hessler TV Movie
1976 Ryan's Hope Martha McKee TV Series (12 Episodes)
Gibbsville Carole Alf Kjellin TV Series (1 Episode : "Trapped")
Serpico Erica Molinas Alex March TV Series (1 Episode : "Rapid Fire")
1977 Family Susan Bowers Robert Hartford-Davis TV Series (1 Episode : "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...")
The Bob Newhart Show Veronica Kidd Dick Martin TV Series (1 Episode : "The Heartbreak Kidd")
Barnaby Jones Laura Woods Walter Grauman TV Series (1 Episode : "Circle of Treachery")
The Amazing Howard Hughes Katharine Hepburn William A. Graham TV Movie
The World of Darkness Clara Sanford Jerry London TV Movie
The Love Boat Susan Ridley Richard Kinon
Stuart Margolin
Alan Rafkin
TV Series (1 Episode)
1978 Holocaust Helena Slomova Marvin J. Chomsky TV Mini-Series (4 Episodes)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nunzio Michelle Paul Williams
Once Upon a Classic Sandy Ben Bolt TV Series (1 Episode : "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court")
Terror Out of the Sky Jeannie Devereux Lee H. Katzin TV Movie
1979 The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal Florence Mel Stuart TV Movie
Beggarman, Thief Monika Wolner Lawrence Doheny TV Movie
1980 The Women's Room Iso Glenn Jordan TV Movie
The Idolmaker Brenda Roberts Taylor Hackford
Murder Ink Laura Ireland John G. Avildsen TV Series
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her K. D. Locke Ken Annakin
1983 Daniel Linda Mindish Sidney Lumet
1984 Airwolf Sarah Lebow Stephen Dollinger TV Series (1 Episode : "Fight Like a Dove")
An All Consuming Passion Vivian Palmer Kathryn Nesmith Video
The Love Boat Margo Bush Robert Scheerer TV Series (1 Episode)
1985 Brewster's Millions Marilyn Walter Hill
Silver Bullet Older Jane's voice Daniel Attias
The Equalizer Samantha Page Donald Petrie TV Series (1 Episode : "Desperately")
1987 Mariah Deena Hertz TV Series (7 Episodes)
L.A. Law Lynn Palmer Anson Williams
Michael Zinberg
TV Series (2 Episodes)
1988 The Blue Iguana Detective Vera Quinn John Lafia
1990 ABC Afterschool Specials Mrs. Carr Steven Schachter TV Series (1 Episode : "All That Glitters")
1991 Saying Kaddish Oren Rudavsky
Against the Law Connor Armand Mastroianni TV Series (1 Episode : "Evil Conduct")
En dag i oktober Emma Kublitz Kenneth Madsen
1992 Lifestories: Families in Crisis Allen Coulter TV Series (1 Episode)
Citizen Cohn Iva Schlesinger Frank Pierson TV Movie
CBS Schoolbreak Special Denise Warshak Susan Rohrer TV Series (1 Episode : "Sexual Considerations")
1993 TriBeCa Sheila Goldberg Joe Morton TV Series (1 Episode : "The Loft")
1994 The Cosby Mysteries Rose Corey Allen TV Series (1 Episode : "Home, Street Home")
1995 Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story Eleanor Alter Karen Arthur TV Movie
The Real Shlemiel Voices Albert Hanan Kaminski
Trouble Goldie Carrie Blank Short
Comfortably Numb Victoria Stevens Gavin O'Connor
1997 All My Children Lila Stevenson TV Series (2 Episodes)
Hudson River Blues Charlotte Nell Cox
1998 Montana Greta Jennifer Leitzes
Charlie Hoboken Angie Cedars Thomas F. Mazziotti
A Will of their Own Mrs. Rubenstein Karen Arthur (2) TV Mini-Series (1 Episode)
1999 A Walk on the Moon Lillian Kantrowitz Tony Goldwyn
The Corruptor Margaret Wheeler James Foley
Cosby Don Scardino TV Series (1 Episode : "There's Something About Hilton")
2000 Happy Accidents Lillian Weaver Brad Anderson
2001 The Believer Woman in Shul Henry Bean
Kissing Jessica Stein Judy Stein Charles Herman-Wurmfeld Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Friends & Family Alma Jennings Kristen Coury
Old Love Ethel Brockeles Jan Schütte Short
The 3 Little Wolfs Sarah Wolf Joey Craine
2002 Noon Blue Apples Sponge-Brush Woman Jay Lee
The End of the Bar Mrs. Garner Randy T. Dinzler
The Education of Max Bickford Sharon Bickford Don Scardino (2) TV Series (2 Episodes)
2003 Queens Supreme Marie TV Series (1 Episode : "Flawed Heroes")
The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced Narrator Lawrence R. Hott TV Movie Documentary
2004 The Tollbooth Ruthie Cohen Debra Kirschner Method Fest Independent Film Festival - Best Supporting Actress
2005 Alchemy Senior Editor Evan Oppenheimer
Life on the Ledge Mother Lewis Helfer
The Reality Trap Irina Bolton Michael Bergmann
2006 Just My Luck Madame Z Donald Petrie (2)
Lady in the Water Mrs. Bubchik M. Night Shyamalan
O Jerusalem Golda Meir Élie Chouraqui
Crossing Jordan Mrs. Elaine Brandau TV Series (3 Episodes)
1991-2007 Law & Order Danielle Melnick TV Series (13 Episodes)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2003)
2007 The Shallow End of the Ocean Jason's Mother Evan Buxbaum Short
Love Comes Lately Ethel Jan Schütte (2)
Love Life Hannah Maria Schrader
2008 Eavesdrop Susie Matthew Miele
A House Divided Rebecca Meir Mitch Davis
Goyband Leah Christopher Grimm
2009 Acts of Mercy Nurse Ruth Baker Laura C. Lopez
2010 A Buddy Story Buddy's Mom Marc Erlbaum
Ugly Betty Mrs. Varner John Putch TV Series (1 Episode : "Blackout!")
Ten Stories Tall Grace Parker David Garrett
The Good Wife Lena Félix Enríquez Alcalá TV Series (1 Episode : "Doubt")
Heterosexuals Remy Robert McCaskill
2011 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Danielle Melnick Jean de Segonzac TV Series (1 Episode : "To the Boy in the Blue Knit Cap")
2012 Beautiful People Lynch Stephen Hopkins TV Movie
Covert Affairs Rivka Singer TV Series (2 Episodes)
All the Broken Pieces Grandmother Daniella Kahane Short
2014 A Little Game Blackstone Head of School Evan Oppenheimer (2)
Glinda Glinda Nicole Cosgrove Short
The Hyperglot Elaine Michael Urie Short
2015 Unreachable by Conventional Means David's Mom Rory Rooney
Angelica Nora Mitchell Lichtenstein
She's Funny That Way Miriam Peter Bogdanovich
Flesh and Bone Ivana TV Series (6 Episodes)
The Walking Dead Deanna Monroe Season 5 (Recurring role; 5 episodes)
Season 6 (Series regular)

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ John A. Willis (2000). Screen World Volume 50: 1999. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 307. ISBN 978-1-55783-410-2. 
  2. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh Bio". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  3. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh's official website". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Jerry Tallmer (March 4, 2009). "Finding herself". The Villager. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  5. ^ Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater by Davi Napoleon, Iowa State University Press, 1991. pp. 156-160.
  6. ^ "''Golda's Balcony''". Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  7. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh official website". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew "Feldshuh to Return to Broadway in March in Irena's Vow", December 22, 2008
  10. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh in Gypsy | Bristol Riverside Theatre". Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  11. ^ "Welcome to Tovah Feldshuh's Official Site!". Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  12. ^ Stephen Holden (February 21, 2015). "Review: Tovah Feldshuh Embraces Life at 54 Below". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Geoff Berkshire (March 1, 2015). "‘Walking Dead’ Q&A: Tovah Feldshuh On Playing Alexandria Leader Deanna Monroe and Rick’s Big Shave". Variety. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ Rosalie R. Radomsky (December 7, 2014). "A Broadway Baby Takes on a Co-Star". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ Feldshuh, Tovah (June 23, 2015). "Tovah Feldshuh tweet (Verified Account)". Retrieved July 6, 2015. My nephew Noah Feldshuh goes on Jimmy Fallon tonight he's the gorgeous one on the far right  
  16. ^ Jewish Culture website - report on Feldshuh[dead link]
  17. ^ NFJC citations[dead link]

External links[edit]