Phyllis Newman

Award-winning Broadway musicals actress since the 1950s.
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Artist Biography

b. 19 March 1933, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. Among Newman’s early appearances on Broadway were Wish You Were Here (1952) and Bells Are Ringing (1956), for which she was Judy Holliday’s standby for the leading role of Ella Peterson. In 1958 she choreographed Nightcap, a revue at The Showplace, a club at 146 West 54th Street in New York City. The music and lyrics for the show were by as-yet unknown songwriter Jerry Herman. In the late 50s and early 60s, Newman was in the musicals First Impressions and Moonbirds (both 1959) and Subways Are For Sleeping (1961). For the latter she won a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress In A Musical. She was a replacement cast member of The Apple Tree (1966), was in the 1971 revival of On The Town, and was a replacement cast member in The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1971). On 22 April 1979, Newman staged V.I.P. Night On Broadway, in which appeared the American Dance Machine, Lucie Arnaz, Lauren Bacall, Andy Kaufman, Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, Millicent Martin, Chita Rivera, Maureen Stapleton and Robin Williams.

Then came a starring role in The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979), for which Newman also wrote the book, in collaboration with Arthur Laurents, and music for some of the songs and lyrics for others. Although the show ran for only 85 performances on Broadway, it had gained a following the year before under its original title of My Mother Was A Fortune Teller in a production by The Hudson Guild Theatre. Newman was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress In A Musical. Among those whose music and/or lyrics were used in the show were Peter Allen, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Martin Charnin, Betty Comden, Fred Ebb, Adolph Green (whom Newman had married in 1960), Sheldon Harnick, John Kander, Edward Kleban, Barry Manilow, Carole Bayer Sager and Stephen Sondheim. In the 80s Newman appeared in a revival of Awake And Sing! (1984) and Broadway Bound (1986). For the latter, she was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress In A Play. She was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in The Moment When (2000).

Newman has also appeared in a number of television and theatrical films. On television she was the first woman to fill in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show (1962), and was a frequent guest on popular game shows including To Tell The Truth and What’s My Line?