Tovah Feldshuh

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Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh 2004.jpg
Feldshuh in 2004
Born Terri Sue Feldshuh
(1953-12-27) December 27, 1953 (age 62)[1]
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Actress, singer, playwright
Years active 1973–present
Spouse(s) Andrew Harris Levy
Children 2

Terri Sue "Tovah" Feldshuh (born December 27, 1952) 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. More recently, she has perhaps become best known for her role as Deanna Monroe on AMC's television adaptation of The Walking Dead.

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, 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]

Career[edit]

Theater[edit]

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] In 1994, she joked that she could have changed her name to "Goody Two-Shoes," since "Tovah" is Hebrew for "good," while "Feldshuh" translates from German as "field shoe."[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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."[8] In 2000, she co-wrote and performed in a one-woman play about actress Tallulah Bankhead titled Tallulah Hallelujah![9]

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.[10] In 2012, Feldshuh performed as Mama Rose in a revival of Gypsy.

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.[11][12]

In February 2015, she performed a one-woman show which she called Aging Is Optional at 54 Below.[13]

Film and Television[edit]

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. 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, she appeared as Mossad agent Rivka in the Covert Affairs episode "Wishful Beginnings". In 2014 she appeared in the film She's Funny That Way.

March 2015 saw her make 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.[14] She also appeared in the six-part miniseries Flesh and Bone, which debuted 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][15] Her nephew, Noah Feldshuh, is a member of alternative rock band X Ambassadors.[16]

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.[17][18]

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."[14]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1978 Nunzio Michelle
1980 The Idolmaker Brenda Roberts
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her K. D. Locke
1983 Daniel Linda Mindish
1984 An All Consuming Passion Vivian Palmer Video
1985 Brewster's Millions Marilyn
1985 Silver Bullet Older Jane's voice
1988 The Blue Iguana Detective Vera Quinn
1991 Saying Kaddish
1991 En dag i oktober Emma Kublitz
1995 The Real Shlemiel Voices
1995 Trouble Goldie Short
1995 Comfortably Numb Victoria Stevens
1997 Hudson River Blues Charlotte
1998 Montana Greta
1998 Charlie Hoboken Angie Cedars
1999 A Walk on the Moon Lillian Kantrowitz
1999 The Corruptor Margaret Wheeler
2000 Happy Accidents Lillian Weaver
2001 The Believer Woman in Shul
2001 Kissing Jessica Stein Judy Stein Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2001 Friends & Family Alma Jennings
2001 Old Love Ethel Brockeles Short
2001 The 3 Little Wolfs Sarah Wolf
2002 Noon Blue Apples Sponge-Brush Woman
2002 The End of the Bar Mrs. Garner
2004 The Tollbooth Ruthie Cohen Method Fest Independent Film Festival - Best Supporting Actress
2005 Alchemy Senior Editor
2005 Life on the Ledge Mother
2005 The Reality Trap Irina Bolton
2006 Just My Luck Madame Z
2006 Lady in the Water Mrs. Bubchik
2006 O Jerusalem Golda Meir
2007 The Shallow End of the Ocean Jason's Mother Short
2007 Love Comes Lately Ethel
2007 Love Life Hannah
2008 Eavesdrop Susie
2008 A House Divided Rebecca Meir
2008 Goyband Leah
2009 Acts of Mercy Nurse Ruth Baker
2010 A Buddy Story Buddy's Mom
2010 Ten Stories Tall Grace Parker
2010 Heterosexuals Remy
2012 All the Broken Pieces Grandmother Short
2014 A Little Game Blackstone Head of School
2014 Glinda Glinda Short
2014 The Hyperglot Elaine Short
2015 Angelica Nora
2015 She's Funny That Way Miriam
TBA Unreachable by Conventional Means David's Mom

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy Agnes Thornton TV Movie
1976 Ryan's Hope Martha McKee 12 Episodes
1976 Gibbsville Carole Episode: "Trapped"
1976 Serpico Erica Molinas Episode: "Rapid Fire"
1977 Family Susan Bowers Episode: "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall..."
1977 The Bob Newhart Show Veronica Kidd Episode: "The Heartbreak Kidd"
1977 Barnaby Jones Laura Woods Episode: "Circle of Treachery"
1977 The Amazing Howard Hughes Katharine Hepburn TV Movie
1977 The World of Darkness Clara Sanford TV Movie
1977 The Love Boat Susan Ridley 1 Episode
1978 Holocaust Helena Slomova 4 Episodes
1978 Once Upon a Classic Sandy Episode: "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"
1978 Terror Out of the Sky Jeannie Devereux TV Movie
1979 The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal Florence TV Movie
1979 Beggarman, Thief Monika Wolner TV Movie
1980 The Women's Room Iso TV Movie
1980 Murder Ink Laura Ireland
1984 Airwolf Sarah Lebow Episode: "Fight Like a Dove"
1984 The Love Boat Margo Bush 1 Episode
1985 The Equalizer Samantha Page Episode: "Desperately"
1987 Mariah Deena Hertz 7 Episodes
1987 L.A. Law Lynn Palmer 2 Episodes
1990 ABC Afterschool Specials Mrs. Carr Episode: "All That Glitters"
1991 Against the Law Connor Episode: "Evil Conduct"
1991–07 Law & Order Danielle Melnick 13 Episodes
1992 Lifestories: Families in Crisis 1 Episode
1992 Citizen Cohn Iva Schlesinger TV Movie
1992 CBS Schoolbreak Special Denise Warshak Episode: "Sexual Considerations"
1993 TriBeCa Sheila Goldberg Episode: "The Loft"
1994 The Cosby Mysteries Rose Episode: "Home, Street Home"
1995 Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story Eleanor Alter TV Movie
1997 All My Children Lila Stevenson 2 Episodes
1998 A Will of their Own Mrs. Rubenstein 1 Episode
1999 Cosby Episode: "There's Something About Hilton"
2002 The Education of Max Bickford Sharon Bickford 2 Episodes
2003 Queens Supreme Marie Episode: "Flawed Heroes"
2003 The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced Narrator TV Movie Documentary
2006 Crossing Jordan Mrs. Elaine Brandau 3 Episodes
2010 Ugly Betty Mrs. Varner Episode: "Blackout!"
2010 The Good Wife Lena Episode: "Doubt"
2011 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Danielle Melnick Episode: "To the Boy in the Blue Knit Cap"
2012 Beautiful People Lynch TV Movie
2012 Covert Affairs Rivka Singer 2 Episodes
2015 Blue Bloods Sylvia Hayden Episode: "Bad Company"
2015 Flesh and Bone Ivana 6 Episodes
2015–2016 The Walking Dead Deanna Monroe 11 Episodes
2015–present Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Naomi Bunch Recurring

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[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". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  3. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh's official website". Tovahfeldshuh.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Jerry Tallmer (March 4, 2009). "Finding herself". The Villager. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  5. ^ Vernon Scott (April 1, 1994). "Capitalizing on the triumph of "Schindler's List" at last". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater by Davi Napoleon, Iowa State University Press, 1991. pp. 156-160.
  7. ^ "''Golda's Balcony''". Goldasbalcony.com. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  8. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh official website". Tovahfeldshuh.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  9. ^ "Tallulah Hallelujah". Theatermania.com. 2000. 
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew "Feldshuh to Return to Broadway in March in Irena's Vow" playbill.com, December 22, 2008
  11. ^ "Tovah Feldshuh in Gypsy | Bristol Riverside Theatre". Brtstage.org. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  12. ^ "Welcome to Tovah Feldshuh's Official Site!". Tovahfeldshuh.com. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (February 21, 2015). "Review: Tovah Feldshuh Embraces Life at 54 Below". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Rosalie R. Radomsky (December 7, 2014). "A Broadway Baby Takes on a Co-Star". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  16. ^ Feldshuh, Tovah (June 23, 2015). "Tovah Feldshuh tweet (Verified Account)". Twitter.com. Retrieved July 6, 2015. My nephew Noah Feldshuh goes on Jimmy Fallon tonight he's the gorgeous one on the far right  
  17. ^ Jewish Culture website - report on Feldshuh Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ NFJC citations Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]