He’s vacillated between playing bad boys and cowards and uptight preps and a founding father. He took the Great White Way by storm, and he’s indelibly associated with a particularly trashtastic musical effort that’s transcended time and taste. And now, actor Barry Bostwick is poised to celebrate a major milestone event.
Happy Birthday, Barry Bostwick!
And that’s because he was born on February 24, 1945, in San Mateo, California, which means that this multi-talented actor is turning 76 years old today! Bostwick honed his acting craft at both San Diego’s United States International University for the Performing Arts – during which time he also worked as a circus performer – and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University.
He made his stage debut at age 22, in a production of Take Her, She’s Mine. Bostwick followed that with several non-musical roles in productions such as War and Peace (1968) and The Misanthrope (1968).
In 1969, Bostwick appeared in his first Broadway play – Cock-a-Doodle Dandy – which ran simultaneously with a staging of Hamlet in which he was featured as Osric. Though it was his portrayal of Danny Zuko in the 1972 smash musical Grease that put Bostwick on the map, he also gained some notoriety for his inclusion in The Klowns – a pop group assembled and promoted by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – and his work in the rock opera Salvation.
After breaking into motion pictures with 1971’s Jennifer On My Mind, and lending his voice to the English-dubbed version of Fantastic Planet (1973), Bostwick landed the role for which he would become most recognized: Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
That film, a musical parody-cum-tribute to low-budgeted science fiction and horror fare, which also starred Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, was derided by professional critics and enthusiastically embraced by the viewing public. Its popularity is so enduring that 46 years later, it remains in limited-release throughout the country resulting in the distinction of being the longest-running theatrical release in film history.
Decades later, Bostwick would appear in an episode of the crime drama Cold Case which featured an investigation into the murder of a hotel doorman during a showing of the film sometime in its debut year.
On the heels of Rocky Horror, Bostwick returned to Broadway, first in a revival of the comedy They Knew What They Wanted, and then in The Robber Bridegroom. For his work in the latter, Bostwick would win a Tony Award.
Afterward, he appeared in the musicals She Loves Me and The Pirates of Penzance…then he turned his attention back to film and television opportunities.
On the silver screen, he starred in Movie Movie (1978). On the small, he had leading roles in several Judith Krantz adaptions, and other prestigious miniseries including George Washington (1984), its 1986 sequel, A Woman of Substance (1984), and War and Remembrance (1988).
In 1981, he and Deborah Raffin headlined the TV series adaptation of 1978’s Foul Play, playing characters that had been originated by Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn respectively. Between 1986 and 1987, Bostwick and Carl Weintraub co-starred in the sitcom Dads. To audiences in the 1990s, Bostwick became known for his portrayal of New York City mayor Randall Winston on Spin City (1996-2002) with Michael J. Fox.
Bostwick’s other credits include Charlie’s Angles, Grace Under Fire, What I Like About You, Ugly Betty, and Law and Order: SVU.
In 1997, Bostwick was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 10 days later he had his prostate removed. In 2003, he portrayed a character undergoing the same treatment on Scrubs, and a year later he was the recipient of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Gilda Radner Courage Award.
Bostwick has been married to Sherri Jensen, a fellow performer whom he worked opposite in the made-for-TV movie Praying Mantis, since 1993. The couple has two children, a son, Brian, and a daughter, Chelsea. Entertainment Hub would like to wish Barry Bostwick a very happy birthday.