Pines People- Leonard Frey
September 4, 1938- August 24, 1988
Leonard Frey was an actor who spent time here in the Pines. He originally wanted to become an artist, but in college he became interested in acting. He made his stage debut in an off-Broadway production of “Little Mary Sunshine” and his film debut as a celebrant in Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1966), but he first rose to prominence in the role of Harold, the self-proclaimed “Jew fairy”, in both the stage and screen versions of The Boys in the Band (1970). Written by playwright Mart Crowley who also spent time here.
Frey is probably best known for the role of Motel, the timid tailor, in Fiddler on the Roof (1971); this performance landed him a nomination for a Supporting Actor Oscar.
Frey’s television credits included appearances on Hallmark Hall of Fame; Medical Center; Mission Impossible; Eight is Enough; Quincy, M.E.; Hart to Hart; Barney Miller (1975 episode: ‘The Escape Artist’ & 1980 episode: ‘Vanished’, part 2); Moonlighting; Murder, She Wrote; and the miniseries Testimony of Two Men, as well as a co-starring role as the villainous Parker Tillman on the short-lived ABC western comedy Best of the West.
On The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode entitled “Ted Baxter’s Famous Broadcaster’s School,” aired February 22, 1975 Frey played the role of Lawrence.
His final role was Walter Witherspoon in the ABC’s Disney television movie Bride of Boogedy. He continued to work on stage, in films and on TV throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but he never again attained the level of critical success he enjoyed in “Fiddler on the Roof”. In 1988 he died from complications related to AIDS.
In 1981 he got involved in the local theater production called “Pines Needles.” Written and directed by David Baker.
The musical revue was a satire on the then growing Pines community. Many community members were involved including Jack & Rita Litchtenstein. Leonard Frey’s solo was about the guests of the Pines. See it here: