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Throughout her illustrious career, Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters has dazzled audiences and critics with her performances on stage and television, in concert, and on recordings.
Ms. Peters recently starred on Broadway in the critically acclaimed production of Follies, after a highly successful run at the Kennedy Center. Prior to that, she starred in the Tony Award-winning masterpiece, A Little Night Music opposite Elaine Stritch. This year, Bernadette received her third Tony, The Isabelle Stevenson Award which acknowledges an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre. Peters, along with good friend Mary Tyler Moore co-founded Broadway Barks!, an organization that promotes the adoption of shelter animals. Broadway Barks! has evolved into an event that not only focuses on the plight of homeless animals but had opened the door of communication and fostered a spirit of community among the numerous shelters and rescue groups working throughout New York. Their annual star-studded animal adoption event takes place in New York City’s famed Shubert Alley.
She has also added author / songwriter to her roster of achievements with her debut children’s book, Broadway Barks, a New York Times Bestseller, aptly named after the organization she co-founded. The book package includes a CD of an original song, written and sung by the author. Her second children’s book, “Stella is a Star”, features another of her original songs of which all of the proceeds from the sale of both books go to Broadway Barks!.
In 2003, she received her seventh Tony Award nomination for her electrifying portrayal of Momma Rose in Sam Mendes’ record-breaking Broadway revival of Gypsy, and her brilliant performance was captured on the Grammy award-winning Gypsy cast recording. “Bernadette Peters is a revelation!” Ben Brantley of The New York Times declared of her star turn in the show. Peters’ Angel Records CD, Sondheim, Etc., Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall (The Rest of It), features never-before-released highlights from her historic 1996 highly anticipated solo debut at Carnegie Hall. The concert was a benefit for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. This performance was repeated in Bernadette Peters in Concert, her London solo debut at Royal Festival Hall, which later was telecast on PBS and is available on DVD.
A native of Ozone Park, New York, Peters began her performing career at the age of 3 with appearances on Juvenile Jury, the classic TV game show Name That Tune, and The Horn & Hardart Children’s Hour. She made her theatrical debut in This is Goggle, starring James Daly and Kim Hunter, directed by the legendary Otto Preminger. Still in her teens, she appeared in The Most Happy Fella and The Penny Friend and performed in the national touring company of Gypsy.
Peters made her Broadway debut in 1967 in Johnny No-Trump, and in 1968 starred with Joel Grey in the musical George M!, earning a Theatre World Award for her memorable portrayal of Josie Cohan. That same year, she received a Drama Desk Award for her show stopping performance in the smash hit off-Broadway musical Dames at Sea, and quickly became one of the most sought-after stars in musical theatre.
One of Broadway’s brightest stars, Peters received both the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for her critically acclaimed performance in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Song and Dance. In June 1999, Peters earned her second Tony Award, her third Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her portrayal of Annie Oakley in one of Broadway’s most popular musicals, the smash Tony Award-winning hit Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Peters also received Tony nominations for her work in the 1992 musical The Goodbye Girl; Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park With George; the Jerry Herman/Gower Champion ode to the movies, Mack and Mabel; and the Leonard Bernstein/Comden and Green musical On The Town. In addition to these honors, Peters earned a Drama Desk nomination for her memorable portrayal of the Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
While Peters is best known for her work in the theatre, her career doesn’t end at the footlights. She boasts an impressive list of television credits including her recent guest appearance on NBC’s new hit series SMASH. She has also appeared in the Lifetime movie, Living Proof opposite Harry Connick, Jr.; a guest starring role in the two-hour 2008 season premiere of the ABC-TV hit series, Grey’s Anatomy, and a recurring role on the popular TV hit, Ugly Betty. She has appeared in several performing arts specials such as PBS’ Evening at Pops and The Kennedy Center Honors to early appearances in variety shows such as The Carol Burnett Show and an Emmy-nominated performance on The Muppet Show. She appeared in the star-studded Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall and also played an opera diva-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown in Terrence McNally’s The Last Mile, both for PBS’ highly acclaimed Great Performances series. Other television credits include PBS’s Hey Mr. Producer!: the Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh and the ABC-TV special Quincy Jones: the First 50 Years.
Peters received an Emmy nomination for her performance in FOX’s hit TV series Ally McBeal. She portrayed the wicked stepmother in Cinderella with Brandy and Whitney Houston, and also starred in The Odyssey starring Armand Assante, David, Fall From Grace with Kevin Spacey, and The Last Best Year with Mary Tyler Moore. She also appeared in the Showtime movie Bobbie’s Girl (Daytime Emmy nomination) and Prince Charming, a TNT movie co-starring Martin Short and Christina Applegate.
Peters recorded the original title song for the 1998 feature film Barney’s Great Adventure: The Movie, written by famed Tony Award-winning Broadway composer Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame). She can also be heard as the voice of “Sophie” in the feature film Anastasia, as “Angelique” in the special home video Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas, as Sue in The Land Before Time: The Great Longneck Migration, and the voice of Rita the Cat in the popular Steven Spielberg animated program Animaniacs.
A performer of amazing versatility, Peters has lit up the silver screen in 17 films throughout her distinguished career. She received a Golden Globe Award for her memorable performance in Pennies From Heaven. Film credits include The Jerk with Steve Martin, The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds, Silent Movie with Mel Brooks, Annie with Carol Burnett, Pink Cadillac with Clint Eastwood, Slaves of New York with Mercedes Ruehl, Woody Allen’s Alice with Mia Farrow, Impromptu with Hugh Grant and Mandy Patinkin, and, It Runs in the Family, starring opposite Kirk and Michael Douglas.
In addition to numerous Grammy Award-winning Broadway cast albums including Gypsy and Annie Get Your Gun, Peters has recorded six solo albums: Sondheim, Etc., Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall (The Rest of It); Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein (Grammy Nomination); Sondheim Etc.: Bernadette Peters Live At Carnegie Hall (Grammy Nomination); I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Grammy Nomination); Bernadette Peters; and Now Playing.
Peters has received numerous accolades throughout her distinctive career, ranging from the Tony Award to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Police Athletic League (PAL), an organization which runs 84 youth centers and 150 summer camps for New York City’s neediest children, named her as Woman of the Year for 1999. A few weeks earlier, the Actors Fund of America bestowed Peters with their Artistic Achievement Award. She has received the Special Advocate Award from the City of New York for her contributions to the gay and lesbian community, and is the youngest person to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Peters also received the 2000 New York Heroes Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. In 2004, she was the Arts and Entertainment recipient of the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications, Inc. Other honors include the Sarah Siddons Actress of the Year Award and Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year for her “lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.”
Bernadette devotes her time and talents to numerous events that benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in addition to her “pet project” Broadway Barks. In 2009 she performed a critically acclaimed one night only concert in New York City at the Minskoff Theatre, “Bernadette Peters: A Special Concert for Broadway Barks Because Broadway Cares”, which the proceeds went to both organizations.
She resides in New York City and Los Angeles.