Few entertainers today are as accomplished or versatile as Ben Vereen.
His legendary performances transcend time and have been woven into
the fabric of this country’s artistic legacy. His first love and passion is and
always will be the stage. “The theatre was my first training ground. It taught
me discipline, dedication and appreciation of hard work and values that will stay
with me a lifetime. The stage sharpens the creative instrument and encourages you
to go deeper inside and try new things,” states Ben. On Broadway, Ben Vereen has starred in Wicked, Fosse, I’m Not Rappaport, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Grind, Jelly’s Last Jam and A Christmas Carol. His role in Pippin garnered him both the prestigious Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for “Best Actor in a Musical.”
Ben recently appeared in an episode of BULL, and new TV series MAGNUM P.I both for CBS. In December, Ben finished filming a recurring role on the FOX series STAR, created by Lee Daniels, and an episode of the BET series TALES. Ben also recurs as PORTER in the first and second season of the hit Amazon TV series SNEAKY PETE, produced by David Shore and Bryan Cranston. Prior to this, Ben starred in the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW for Twentieth Century Fox directed by Kenny Ortega and starring alongside Laverne Cox. Ben is also working on a new Broadway show, “Reflections” written by Joe Calarco, directed by Josh Bergasse, with music by Stephen Schwartz.
In January 2016, Ben signed with Americans for the Arts, the largest advocacy group of the Arts in America. Most recently, Ben went with other artists to speak on Capitol Hill defending the National Endowment for the Arts against the proposed budget cuts. They also took him to the DNC where Ben spoke out to various senators, congressmen, governors on the arts and education and later Ben sang “WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW” with other Broadway Icons.
Ben starred alongside Richard Gere in TIME OUT OF MIND and received a Variety Oscar Critic’s Pick mention! John Secor of the Sarasota Film Festival reported, “Ben Vereen is given his most textured role in years, and his sensitive performance reminds us why he’s a legend”. Ben also costarred in Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE, which opened to rave reviews. Ben starred in the world premiere of FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN directed by Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys).
His memorable television roles that have stood the test of time include Chicken George in ROOTS and Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style. Other television credits include How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy (Prism Award), Hot in Cleveland, NCIS, House of Payne, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, OZ, Star Trek - The Next Generation, The Jamie Fox Show, And Accidental Friendship (NAACP IMAGE AWARD) Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Silk Stockings, Webster, and J.J. Starbuck and Booker, Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints, Intruders They Are Among Us (Emmy nomination), Faerie Tale Theatre’s Puss N’ Boots with Gregory Hines, The Jesse Owens Story, Ellis Island (Golden Globe Nomination), Lost in London, Salute to Liberty Special. Tenspeed and Brownshoe, The Muppet Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Pippen: His Life and Times, The Love Boat, 21 and Wake Up, SCTV, The Magic of David Copperfield, Jenny's Song, The Nanny, Touched by an Angel, Lois and Clark, Promised Land, and You Write the Songs. His television special Ben Vereen: His Roots received Seven Emmy Awards. Not forgetting his younger audiences, Ben released a number of well-received children's Sing-Along musical video. He also provided voice-overs for the show Wonder Pets for Nickelodeon was featured in Faerie Tale Theatre's Puss and Boots, Mother Goose Rock "n" Rhyme, The Kid Who Loved Christmas and played Mayor Ben in Hallmark's Zoobilee Zoo.
While not performing, Ben continues to give his time to organizations such as BalletFlorida’s Board of Directors, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Association, Celebrities for a Drug Free America and Community Mental Health Council. Ben volunteered with the American Red Cross during 9/11, an event that changed his life and the world forever. Ben led ongoing diabetes awareness campaign called “S.T.A.N.D.” in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceuticals. He continues to speak out for diabetes for Novo Nordisk, whose purpose is to irradicate dibetes in our lifetimes. For his humanitarian contributions, he has received a number of awards including Israel's Cultural and Humanitarian Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, an Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and a Victory Award. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Arizona, Emerson College, St. Francis College, and Columbia College in Chicago. In 2001, Medgar Evers College created the Ben Vereen Scholarship for the Performing Arts, and in 2004, he rec eived an Achievement in Excellence Award from his alma mater, the High School of the Performing Arts. Recently, Ben led the American Athletes into the LA Coliseum for The Special Olympics, followed by participating in Producer Nigel Lythgoe’s event in Beverly Hills introducing dance as a competition for the first time in the history of the Special Olympics. At the DIZZY FEET FOUNDATION GALA, Ben presented an award to George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn the stars of WEST SIDE STORY.
In February of 2011, Ben released his CD Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen and staged a triumphant return to Broadway with his concert “BEN VEREEN ON BROADWAY AT TOWN HALL”. On January 30th, 2012, Ben was inducted in to The Theatre Hall of Fame. He performed for 100,000 people at the Washington Monument on July 4th and in August, Ben was inducted into The Dance Hall of Fame. Ben also received the Broadwayworld.com 2012 Cabaret Award BEST CELEBRITY MALE VOCALIST for his dazzling 2 week run at the New York City’s latest music venue 54 Below. In May of 2013, Ben received his honorary degree from the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts.
Ben had the honor to share the stage and sing with the fabulous Eartha Kitt’s for her 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall. A major highlight of Ben's career continues to be performing for the Armed Forces whose men and women are serving to protect our shores. In 2009, he performed at the Inaugural Ball with Peter Yarow and Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary. He then entertained at the reopening of the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., which was also attended by President and Mrs. Obama. In 2017, the Friar's Club honored Ben Vereen for his lifetime achievements in the arts.
1973 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical: Pippin [winner]
1973 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance: Pippin [winner]
1972 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Jesus Christ Superstar [nominee]
1972 Theatre World Award: Jesus Christ Superstar [winner]
1985 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Nominee
1976 Golden Globe: New Star of the Year - Actor - Nominee
1977 Emmy: Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music - Nominee
1977 Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series - Nominee
1992 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special - Nominee
2012 - inducted into the National Museum of Dance
2012 - inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame.
2013 - First recipient of the Walk of Fame Award from the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts
2014 - named Cabaret Award BEST CELEBRITY MALE VOCALIST