March 16, 1949– Victor Garber. I first noticed him, as so many did, when he sang and danced his way through the film version hippy Jesus musical Godspell (1973) where Garber is sporting a large Afro. Less than a year later, I would be on stage in the musical and I would have an Afro that rivaled Garber’s. It was a thing in the early 1970s.
Gosh, I just love Canadians, and Garber was born in London, Ontario. He began acting at when he was 9 years old with a local children’s theater troupe. When he was just 16 years old, he began studying Theatre at the University of Toronto.
His first professional role was as landed the leading role of Jesus in the Toronto production of Godspell in 1972. Amazingly, his fellow cast members included Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Martin Short, and Andrea Martin, with Paul Shaffer as musical director and pianist. Garber’s performance was so impressive that he was cast in the same role for the film adaptation.
He began his career as a folk singer, performing in the 1960s with a band, The Sugar Shoppe.The group had moderate success with four top 40 hits in Canada and the performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
An extremely versatile actor, Garber has had a very successful, impressive career on stage, appearing in classics, dramas, comedies and musicals including Noel Coward’s Present Laughter on Broadway in 2010, plus George and Ira Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing at Encores! (2006), Arcadia (1995), Damn Yankees (1994), Stephen Sondheim’s original production of Assassins (1990), Merrily We Roll Along (1990), Love Letters (1989), Lend Me A Tenor (1989), The Devil’s Disciple (1988), Wenceslas Square (1988), Noises Off (1983), Little Me (1982), They’re Playing Our Song (1979), and The Shadow Box (1977).
I have seen him on stage on Broadway as Anthony in the original production of Sondheim’s masterpiece Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (1979), Deathtrap (1978), and Art (1998). All very different roles all performed with real charisma and skill. Plus, Garber is really pretty to look at.
In addition to his noted stage career, Garber has an impressive list of television credits, with roles as a regular on Justice (2006), ReGenesis (2004-08), Eli Stone (2008-09), Glee (2009-15) and Flashpoint (2008-12). He is probably most famous for for playing Jack Bristow on ABC’s Alias (2001-06) for which brought him three Emmy nominations. His guest starring roles are too numerous to mention, but I especially liked his turn as Frasier’s butler on Frasier in 2000. He is currently on something called The Flash, which is not about my male menopause.
In films, his most memorable role was as Thomas Andrews, the ship’s chief architect in the little seen Titanic (1997). He was also in the popular Sleepless In Seattle (1993) opposite Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, The First Wives Club (1996) starring Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler, and Legally Blonde (2001) with Reese Witherspoon. He had a juicy part in last year’s Sicario.
My personal favorite Garber film roles include playing Mayor George Mascone in Gus Van Sant’s Milk (2008), Daddy Warbucks in Annie (1999), Sid Luft in Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadows (2001), and Ken Taylor, the Canadian diplomat in the Academy Award winning Argo, my favorite film of 2012. We even share a film credit; we both have small but funny roles in Singles (1992).
Garber certainly works a lot, but he was never publicly open about his gayness, until he brought his longtime partner, the unnaturally handsome artist Ranier Andreesen as his date to the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2013. After 16 years together, the couple tied the knot in Canada last autumn. Notoriously quiet about his private life, Garber has been surprisingly open since the wedding, with plenty of photographs and comments on Instgram. The couple are nearly too handsome for my eyes. They live in Greenwich Village.
Here is a little tally of the things Garber and I have in common: we both once had impressive blond Afros, we both performed in Godspell in the early 1970s, we each studied at famed HB Studios in NYC, we both had roles in the film Singles, we both have handsome artist husbands. I think that is enough for us to be buddies, don’t you?