- Joel Grey is a theater icon, best known for playing the original Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret
- Joel has two children with his ex-wife, Jo
- Joel came out as gay at the age of 82
Joel Grey is one of the most famous Broadway actors of all time and even won the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023. Sweetly enough, his daughter, Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, personally handed him the award after giving an emotional speech. “I’m so inspired by my dad. By the sheer breadth of his work, his love of life,” she gushed. “As someone who has clung to his every move my entire life his incredible career only pales in comparison to the accomplishment of how he lives his life, his gigantic heart. This world is just markedly better for him being here.”
Joel, who has also won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award, has two kids: Jennifer and his son, James. Joel shares both of his kids with his first and only wife, Jo Wilder, whom he married in 1958. The pair divorced after 20 years of marriage, and Joel came out as gay. Learn more about Joel’ds kids below, including Jennifer’s reaction to him coming out later in life.
Jennifer is Jo and Joel’s first child and was born in New York City in 1960. She is best known for her roles in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which she scared the screen with Matthew Broderick, and 1987’s film, Dirty Dancing, in which she starred opposite the late Patrick Swayze. Jennifer’s career slowed down, interestingly enough, after she had a nose job. “I spent so much energy trying to figure out what I did wrong, why I was banished from the kingdom,” she reflected in her 2022 memoir, Out of the Corner (via PEOPLE). “That’s a lie. I banished myself.”
Jennifer had her nose done not once, but twice. She said she regretted them both — especially after Michael Douglas saw her at a movie premiere shortly after and had no idea who she was. “That was the first time I had gone out in public,” she told PEOPLE. “And it became the thing, the idea of being completely invisible, from one day to the next. In the world’s eyes, I was no longer me.”
“And the weird thing was that thing that I resisted my whole life, and the thing I was so upset with my mother for always telling me I should do my nose. I really thought it was capitulating,” she continued. “I really thought it meant surrendering to the enemy camp. I just thought, ‘I’m good enough. I shouldn’t have to do this.’ That’s really what I felt. ‘I’m beautiful enough.’”
Even if she were “banished” by Hollywood, Jennifer still has a career that would make any rising actor jealous.
Jennifer’s Double Life
Because her father is one of the biggest actors of all time, Jennifer had the world at her fingertips growing up. Sadly, that wasn’t always a good thing, as by the age of 16, she was partying like an adult — and dating them. “Yes, there was lots of drugs and drinking. All the time. I had a boyfriend, we were out at clubs at night. I would change at his house and go to school. I was living a double life,” she recalled to PEOPLE. “I am like just trying to get through the high school years so that I can get on with my life because I am not dating guys my age. I am not interested… I never dated a teenager in my life. I don’t think I ever even kissed a teenager.”
Jennifer’s Knew Her Dad Was Gay Before The Public
Joel came out as a gay man when he was 82 years old. “All the people close to me have known for years who I am,” he explained to PEOPLE in 2015, publicly talking about his sexuality for the first time. “[Yet] it took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”
Jennifer, unsurprisingly, has always been supportive of her father. Sadly, the Cabaret star was not the one to tell her he is gay. While speaking about her memoir, the Red Dawn actress recalled being absolutely shocked when her boyfriend at the time, Matthew Broderick’s mom, quite bluntly told her that her father is a “f**”.
“The reason I put that in the book, was because it was one of those days that changed me. In the sense that how could I not know everything there was to know about my dad? I was the closest to him of anyone in the world,” she explained to PEOPLE. “And he would never not tell me the truth. And that was the only thing that was hard about it was because I was confused because it was one of those moments where my reality was shaken up.”
The actress also shared her disgust for people’s obsession with trying to out Hollywood stars. “I think that sexuality is so much more interesting than gay or straight, bi. And, you know what I think about it all the time: he said my mom was the love of his life and I believe she was,” she confirmed.
Jennifer’s Love Life
As mentioned above, Jennifer was in a relationship with Mathew Broderick after they filmed Ferris Bueller’s Day Off together. They broke up not long after they were in a tragic car accident in Ireland that killed two people. She and Matthew were injured. She went on to briefly date Johnny Depp.
James Katz, the younger brother of Jennifer, has lived a quiet life away from the spotlight. He is a chef, according to PEOPLE.