Phyllis Newman is a Tony Award-winning actress, a director, a writer and truly a Broadway baby. In June 2009 she received her second Tony Award, the newly created Isabelle Stevenson Award for creating the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of the Actor’s Fund in 1996.
She got her start in show business at 4 years old imitating Carmen Miranda in theatres and clubs. It was her electrifying portrayal of Martha Vail in the Jule Styne/Comden and Green musical Subways Are For Sleeping – costumed only in a bath towel – that earned her a Tony Award.
Additionally, she appeared on Broadway in Bells Are Ringing, The Apple Tree, On the Town, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Awake and Sing, and her one-woman musical The Madwoman of Central Park West, which she co-authored with Arthur Laurents. She garnered a Tony Award nomination for her highly-acclaimed performance in Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound.
Off-Broadway she earned a Drama Desk Nomination for her starring performance in James Lapine’s The Moment When… at Playwrights Horizons. She received unanimous praise from critics for her role as an eccentric crisis hotline operator in Nicky Silver’s off-Broadway comedy, The Food Chain, appeared with Fisher Stevens and Annabella Sciorra in the Naked Angels production of Shyster and starred in the Drama Desk-nominated revival of A Majority of One. Other Broadway credits include Wish You Were Here and First Impressions. Regionally she has been seen in Pleasures & Palaces and Rocket to the Moon as well as Arthur Laurents’ My Good Name directed by Daniel Sullivan.
She’s done concerts and narrations with symphony orchestras all over the world including Maestro Lukas Foss, Skitch Henderson and the NY Pops and a concert at Caramoor with her daughter, Amanda Green, conducted by Maestro Michael Barrett. She received rave reviews for her portrayal of Stella Deems in the concert performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at Avery Fisher Hall, which is now available on DVD.
She’s directed Stand Up For New York, a Toyota Comedy Festival event benefiting New York Women in Film & TV and Straws in the Wind at The American Place Theater. In the summer of 2004, she directed a work by many contemporary playwrights that opened the new Provincetown Playhouse. She also wrote and co-produced a musical revue for President Clinton’s pre-inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C.
While Newman is best known for her work in the theatre, her impressive career doesn’t end at the footlights. Her television credits capture the history of the medium itself, ranging from Playhouse 90, in the days of live television theatre, and appearances on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show, to serving as the first woman to host The Johnny Carson Show. She has worked extensively in TV – starring opposite Alan Arkin in 100 Centre Street, Oz; Murder, She Wrote; thirtysomething and The Jury.
Her films include The Human Stain, It Had To Be You, For the Time Being, Fish in the Bathtub, A Price Above Rubies, The Beautician and the Beast, Only You, Mannequin, To Find a Man, Bye Bye Braverman, and Picnic.
Her life was dramatically altered in 1983 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Simon & Schuster published her candid, often funny, and highly-praised account of her triumph with the disease, Just in Time: Notes From My Life, which is also available as a deluxe paperback from Limelight Editions. Her lecture, The Gift of Laughter, based on her successful book, has received standing ovations all over the country.
Her own experience with breast cancer inspired her to raise awareness of women’s health issues and needs in the entertainment industry, and in 1996 she launched The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund of America with a star-studded benefit concert, Nothing Like A Dame. Billed as “the thinking woman’s vaudeville,” Nothing Like A Dame has featured a galaxy of Broadway luminaries throughout its successful twelve-year history, from Bernadette Peters and Bebe Neuwirth to Uta Hagen and Chita Rivera. Since 1996, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative has disbursed millions of dollars to women in need. The group also sponsors health fairs and runs support groups.
Phyllis Newman lives in New York, and is currently writing a musical. She was married to the late Adolph Green, the legendary lyricist/screenwriter/composer, for 42 years. They have two children, Adam and Amanda.