Tommy Tune, award-winning song and dance man
He's performed for kings and presidents, won nine Tony Awards, and starred in some of the most successful musicals in Broadway history. At 6'6", he was once told he was "as tall on talent as he was on his legs." This is the story of a humble Texas boy who became a legend of the Great White Way. Hello, Tommy!
Thomas James Tune (his real name) was born February 28, 1939 in Wichita Falls, Texas. By the time he was five years old, he was living in Houston, taking ballet, tap dance, and singing lessons. In 1960, he earned his bachelor of arts degree in drama from the University of Houston and set off for New York City to become famous.
In 1965, he got his first Broadway role, performing in the chorus of Baker Street. He also made his sole movie appearance in 1967's Hello, Dolly!, reprising his role of Ambrose Kemper. Over the next 7 years, he was in and out of choruses and supporting roles all across the Great White Way, culminating in his first Tony Award for his leading role in Seesaw in 1973. In the meantime, he gained national fame working as the choreographer for Dean Martin's popular variety show. Tommy began directing in 1974, and following productions of The Club and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Tommy captured his second Tony for A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine.
The lanky Tune hit his stride in the early 80s, appearing frequently on "The Tonight Show" and at awards shows. From 1982 to 1985, Tommy won 6 Tonys for his role as actor and choreographer in My One And Only, Grand Hotel, and The Will Rogers Follies. He also began a highly acclaimed one-man stage show, Tommy Tune Tonite!, which toured internationally throughout the decade.
Over the years, Tommy has received a number of awards for dancing and drama, including two Obies, two Astaire Awards, and induction into Broadway's Hall of Fame in 1991. Three years later, he received the ultimate coup de grace for his career, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Unfortunately, Tommy's limelight was diminished by a series of flops, and in 1995 Tommy suffered a broken foot, ending his Broadway career for good.
Tommy, who announced his bisexuality in his 1998 autobiography Footnotes, never married, but saw two of his closest friends succumb to AIDS in the 1990s, and continues to be an ardent supporter of both gay rights and AIDS awareness groups in America.
In 1999, Tommy revived himself in Las Vegas performing in the lavish spectacle EFX for two years. Today, Tommy still performs around Manhattan, mostly doing smaller one-man shows at nightclubs and Off-Broadway theaters. He also serves on the board of directors at the Theater Under the Stars, a popular program that brings Broadway shows to the Houston area.