Broadway star Joel Grey, father of Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, comes out as gay at age 82

Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey, who was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and who is the father of actress Jennifer Grey, has publicly revealed that he is gay. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey, who was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and who is the father of actress Jennifer Grey, has publicly revealed that he is gay. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS, AFP) - Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey, who was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and who fathered actress Jennifer Grey, publicly revealed on Wednesday that he is gay.

The 82-year-old actor, who also has a son from the marriage that ended in 1982, told People magazine that his family and friends have known about his sexuality.

"I don't like labels," he is quoted as saying in the issue of the magazine to be published on Friday, "but if you have to put a label on it, I'm a gay man."

He discussed his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, and hearing grownups speak about gay men being jailed for their sexuality. He said that at around the same time, he realised he was attracted to girls and boys.

He was the first to play the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the Broadway musical Cabaret in 1966 and won the Tony Award for the performance. He won an Academy Award for his role in the 1972 film version opposite Liza Minnelli.

He said he believed it would have been impossible to have been openly gay in the entertainment industry he first started working in. "You couldn't have a life, a career then. It was too dangerous in my world," he said.

Jennifer Grey, best known for her role in 1987's Dirty Dancing opposite Patrick Swayze, told People that she was pleased her father felt comfortable and secure enough to publicly declare himself a gay man.

"Mostly because more people are free to own their true nature and can hopefully come closer to love and accept themselves as they really are, no matter what age, no matter how long it takes, to finally be free of the lies or half truths, it is freedom," she said.