“People think of me as the Jewish Meryl Streep.” Tovah Feldshuh
Getting her start with Michigan's Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, American actress Tovah Feldshuh has been nominated for Tony Awards four times. She took home her first nomination for playing the title role in “Yentl” (1975-76), in which she also collected a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award. She received her subsequent nominations for “Sarava” (1979, played Flor), “Lend Me a Tenor” (1989, played Maria) and “Golda's Balcony” (2003), her one woman show about Golda Meir. She also won Drama Desk Awards for the latter two shows. Other stage credits include “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” (netted a Drama Desk nomination), “Tallulah Hallelujah!” (also a playwright), “Hello Dolly” and “Irena's Vow.” Feldshuh has also established a prolific TV and film career. Debuting in the 1973 made-for-TV film “Scream, Pretty Peggy,” the New York City native nabbed Emmy nominations for her supporting role of Helena Slomova on the NBC miniseries “Holocaust” (1978) and for her recurring role of defense attorney Danielle Melnick on the NBC legal drama series “Law & Order” (13 episodes, 1991-2007). She worked in regular roles in the soap operas “Ryan's Hope” (1976) and “As The World Turns” (1994) as well as the prime time weekly “Mariah” (1987). On the silver screen, Feldshuh, who was named one of “12 Promising New Actors of 1977” in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 29, may be best remembered for portraying Jessica's mother in “Kissing Jessica Stein” (2001) and as the nagging Jewish mom, Ruthie Cohen, in “The Tollbooth” (2004), from which she won a 2003 Satellite Award and a 2005 Method Fest Award, respectively. Other films she has acted in include “The Idolmaker” (1980), “Brewster's Millions” (1985), “A Day in October” (1992), “A Walk on the Moon” (1999), “Happy Accidents” (2000), “The Believer” (2001), the Lindsay Lohan vehicle “Just My Luck” (2006), M. Night Shyamalan's “Lady in the Water” (2006) and “Eavesdrop” (2008).
Feldshuh is also a cabaret performer. She made her debut at the renowned Algonquin Oak Room with “Tovah: Crossovah!”
Feldshuh has been married to her lawyer husband, Andrew Levy, since 1977. They have two children together. Feldshuh has actively taken part in a number of Jewish civil and charitable causes. She has received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award, the Israeli Government Friendship Award, and Hadassah's Myrtle Wreath. She was awarded the 2002 Jewish Image Award and the 2006 Performing Arts award by The National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Terri Sue Feldshuh
Childhood and Family:
Born Terri Sue Feldshuh on December 27, 1952, in New York City, Tovah Feldshuh was raised in a Jewish household in Scarsdale, a rich community in Westchester County. Her father, Sidney Feldshuh, was a lawyer. She is the sister of David Feldshuh, who is a Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright (“Miss Evers' Boys”).
Tovah graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She also attended the University of Michigan and studied acting under the guidance of Jacques LeCoq and Uta Hagen.
On March 20, 1977, Tovah married a New York attorney named Andrew Levy. They have a daughter named Amanda Claire Levy and a son named Garson Brandon Levy.
Kissing Jessica Stein
First appearing on stage under the name Terri Fairchild, Tovah Feldshuh began her professional career with the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Michigan, where she was honored with the McKnight Fellowship in Acting. Her Broadway debut came when she was cast in the original Broadway musical of “Cyrano,” which ran from May 13 to June 23, 1973. She went on to work in the original drama “Dreyfus in Rehearsal” (1974, played Myriam) and the original Broadway musical revue of “Rodgers & Hart” (1975) before gaining recognition in the Broadway production of “Yentl” (1975-76), in which she had the title role. Delivering a good performance, she was honored with a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play and two consecutive Drama Desk nominations in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Play (1975 and 1976). She also received a 1975 Theatre World Award and the 1975 New York Drama Desk Award for Special Mention. By the late 1970s, the former student of British director Michael Langham had added an additional Tony nomination to her resume thanks to her portrayal of Flor in the original Broadway musical of “Saravà” (February to June 1979). Meanwhile, in April 1979, she was also seen starring in the “V.I.P. Night on Broadway Special, Benefit” in New York City.
At the same time she debuted on Broadway, Feldshuh also had her first taste in front of the TV cameras in the ABC horror film “Scream, Pretty Peggy” (1973), which starred Ted Bessell, Sian Barbara Allen and Bette Davis. Three years later, she landed her first regular on the ABC daytime soap “Ryan's Hope,” where she played Martha McKee. She followed it up with a string of guest appearances in TV series such as “Barnaby Jones” and “The Bob Newhart Show” before receiving notice as Katharine Hepburn in the Emmy Award winning TV biopic “The Amazing Howard Hughes” (CBS, 1977), opposite Tommy Lee Jones as Howard Hughes. However, it was her role of Helena Slomova, the Czech freedom fighter, in the critically acclaimed miniseries “Holocaust” (1978, NBC) that shot the actress to international fame. The role also brought her a 1978 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Feldshuh made her feature film acting debut in the 1978 drama “Nunzio,” which was directed by Paul Williams and starred David Proval. Her second big screen outing arrived two years later when she was hired to star as Brenda Roberts in “The Idolmaker” (1980), based on the life of rock promoter and producer Bob Marcucci. The film marked the directorial debut for Taylor Hackford and featured film debuts for costars Peter Gallagher, Paul Land, and Joe Pantoliano. Subsequent film roles included Marilyn in the Walter Hill directed comedy “Brewster's Millions” (1985), starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, and Detective Vera Quinn in John Lafia's satire “The Blue Iguana” (1989), which starred Dylan McDermott. Feldshuh returned to series TV as a regular cast member in the short-lived prison drama “Mariah” (1987), playing psychiatrist Deena Hertz. After the show's demise, she appeared in two episodes of “L.A. Law” (also 1987), playing Lynn Palmer.
In 1989, Feldshuh revisited Broadway in a production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” which ran from March 1989 to April 1990. As Maria, she was nominated for a 1989 Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play and won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role. She would continue to have a featured role in the New York City stage production of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” (1993), from which she earned a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.
In 1991, Feldshuh joined the cast of NBC's long-running drama series “Law & Order” in the recurring role of Danielle Melnick and would continue to play the role until 2007. She received a 2003 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work in the series. The accomplished performer then teamed up with D.B. Sweeney in the WWII drama movie “A Day in October” (1992), helmed by Kenneth Madsen and written by Damian F. Slattery, supported James Woods and Joseph Bologna in the made-for-TV film “Citizen Cohn” (also 1992), was cast as Dr. Bethany Rose in the CBS soap opera “As The World Turns” (1994) and played Lila Stevenson in two episodes of the ABC Emmy Award winning soap “All My Children” (1997). She also appeared with Lea Thompson, Faye Dunaway and the Brazilian beauty Sonia Braga in the TV miniseries “A Will of Their Own” (1998) and portrayed the stepmother of Diana Lane in the drama film “A Walk on the Moon” (1999), for director Tony Goldwyn.
Entering the new millennium, Feldshuh was seen in such movies as Brad Anderson's “Happy Accidents” (2000, as the mother of Marisa Tomei), the Sundance's Grand Jury Prize winner “The Believer” (2001, directed by Henry Bean), Kristen Coury's comedy “Friends and Family” (2001) and the independent film “The End of the Bar” (2002). In “Kissing Jessica Stein,” a 2001 highly acclaimed independent dramatic comedy starring and co-written by Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen, she was cast as the mother of Jessica Westfeldt and received a Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical for her acting job.
Returning to live performances, Feldshuh toured in the one woman show “Golda's Balcony” (2003), which was about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. As Golda Meir, she picked up a 2004 Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play and a Drama Desk for Outstanding One-Person Show. The gifted performer enjoyed additional attention onscreen with her portrayal of Ruthie Cohen, Marla Sokoloff's ill-natured Jewish mother, in the coming-of-age movie “The Tollbooth” (2004), which was written and directed by Debra Kirschner. The role brought her a Method Fest for Best Supporting Actress.
The following years saw roles in the films “The Reality Trap” (2005, directed by Michael Bergmann), “Life on the Ledge” (2005), “A House Divided” (2006, written and directed by Mitch Davis), “Just My Luck” (2006, starred Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine), “Lady in the Water” (2006, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan), “O Jerusalem” (2006, played former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir), “Love Comes Lately” (2007, directed by Jan Schütte), “Liebesleben/Love Life” (2007), Maria Schrader's adaptation of a novel by Zeruya Shalev, and “Eavesdrop” (2008, with Anna Chlumsky and Lynn Cohen). She also played Elaine Brandau in three episodes of “Crossing Jordan” (2006-2007). On stage, she had the title role in a musical theater production of “Hello Dolly” at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey (June to July 2006) and played Irena Gut Opdyke in a Broadway production of “Irena's Vow” (March, 2009).
Feldshuh recently completed filming “Goyband” (2009), a comedy from filmmaker Christopher Grimm, and “Ten Stories Tall” (2009), a drama directed by David Garrett. She will work with Elizabeth Moss, Tim Guinee and Lee Garlington in Marc Erlbaum's “Buddy Gilbert Comes Alive” (2009), Aleksa Palladino, David Monahan, Sara Erikson and Amy Benedict in Laura C. Lopez's “Acts of Mercy” (2009) and Natasha Lyonne and Ashley Williams in Robert McCaskill's “Heterosexuals” (2009).
Method Fest: Best Supporting Actress, Feature Film, “The Tollbooth,” 2005
Satellite: Golden Satellite Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical, “Kissing Jessica Stein,” 2003
Drama Desk: Outstanding One-Person Show, “Golda's Balcony,” 2003
Drama Desk: Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, “Lend Me a Tenor,” 1989
Theatre World: “Yentl,” 1976
Drama Desk: Special Award, “Yentl,” 1975