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8 Awesome People Who Have Never Won a Single Damn Tony

Here’s the crap thing about the Tony Awards that you’ve probably already figured out: The people that you love don’t always win. Hell, people who fully deserve to win, and have thriving careers and consistently do wonderful work, don’t always win. Barbra Streisand, Stephen Schwartz — neither has ever won a Tony. Theater’s top prize has thus far eluded Jan Maxwell four times — including the time she was nominated twice in a single year. Alan Menken has enough Oscars to fill a swimming pool, but he has yet to win a Tony. So what gives?

Well, lots of things: Politics, the relative strength (or weakness) of the theater season and of the category in question, and general trends, for starters.

So we wanted to make you feel better. Or maybe we just wanted to remind you, before your annual bout of Tony Anxiety settles in — that the little spinning disc ain’t everything. It’s a nice bauble, for sure. But here are our favorite folks who have never won, and who have retained their awesomeness in spite of it…

Patrick Wilson
If they gave Tonys for handsomeness and sweet, lurking vulnerability, Patrick would have six by now. With back-to-back Tony nominations in 2001 and 2002, he was Broadway’s hottest commodity in those years, and with good reason. Pretty face aside, he more than delivered as Jerry Lukowski, the self-esteem-challenged leading dude in The Full Monty, and as a robustly sung Curly McLain. For that, he wins the Tony of Our Hearts forever.

Terrence Mann
He’s the Beast. He’s Javert. He’s the Rum Tum Tugger now and forever, just like the poster says. He’s the best thing about the movie version of A Chorus Line simply because when he’s on screen, we feel slightly less crazy. But alas, despite being a staple on Broadway for a major chunk of the 80s and 90s, Terrence Mann remains stupidly Tony-free.

Gavin Creel
What does being one of the greatest theater singers of your era get you? Not a Tony Award, as it turns out. Nominated twice, Gavin’s never won. He has, however, become a passionate equal rights advocate, a charting solo artist, and the guy who musical theater programs point to and go, “Be like that guy.” We’re guessing he’ll take that. We will.

Judy Kuhn
With three Tony nominations, and a spate of both memorable and memorably recorded roles under her belt, the lovely Judy Kuhn has never won. Apparently being Pocahontas has less cache in the theater world than we thought. With a plum role playing Fosca in the Classic Stage Company’s off-Broadway revival of Passion next season, however, we think Tony gold (silver?) could still be in her future. And if it’s not, she’s still Pocahontas.

Raul Esparza
Our prediction? Raul Esparza will win a Tony at some point. His outrageous talent and commitment to new material make that much seem inevitable. But up until this moment, Raul cannot catch a Tony-related break. Being nominated without a win hasn’t really stopped the Raul Train, though. Since 2000, he’s played nine major roles on Broadway, all with aplomb. Maybe ten will be a winner. And if it’s not, we’ll probably love watching it anyway.

Rebecca Luker
You’ve gotta give a girl credit for breathing actual feeling into the otherwise dead-souled Christine Daae, and the literally dead Lily Craven. Pretty Rebecca Luker, with her airy soprano, did both, and has picked up three Tony nominations for other roles, but she’s never won. Small consolation? We’re likely to see her at this year’s ceremony alongside hubby Danny Burstein.

Victor Garber
Joining Raul Esparza and Jan Maxwell in the Four Times Shafted Club is silky voiced Victor Garber, who spends his time away from Broadway starring in hit TV shows and stuff. With a stage career that has spanned more than three decades, and has included roles in both musicals and dramas, we love Victor for his versatility and his offhand sense of cool. Will a Tony change that? Not likely.

Marin Mazzie
From the first time we saw her whole mostly-naked self in Passion, we sort of felt like Giorgio did when he first saw Clara: Obsessed. With crazy pipes for days, Marin sings it like almost no one else can. Of course, she has dramatic chops, too. Her performance in Enron filled us with so much glee-slash-horror that we almost ended up underneath the seats in front of us. Give this woman a Tony, please.

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Kevin May 23, 2012, 11:29 am

    A couple to add to the list: Raul Julia and Tovah Feldshuh went 0-4, while both George C. Scott and Dana Ivey went home empty-handed a whopping 5 times. Awards are weird.

  • Sarah Sharpe May 23, 2012, 3:03 pm

    Please add Aaron Tveit to this list!!! The only Goodman family member not to be nominated (just because he’s dead doesnt’t mean he doesn’t deserve any Tony love) and lost to the old man for even a Best Performance for a Leading Actor in a Musical nomination (who even eventually ended up winning the category)!!! However, he doesn’t need one little award to tell him that he’s extremely hot and talented <3

  • Garrett May 23, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Someone you should probably add to the list is Julie friggin’ Andrews. Despite being one of the best-loved actresses, like, ever, she hasn’t won a single Tony (she lost for “My Fair Lady” *and* “Camelot”).

    Also in the “ridiculously awesome/talented/Tony-less” category are Tim Curry, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Eartha Kitt, Sherie Rene Scott, John McMartin, Tom Aldredge, Marc Kudisch, and Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian the friggin’ Crab, for crying out loud).

    Basically, as if we didn’t already know, these days the Tony Awards are almost always about politics.

  • James May 24, 2012, 10:18 am

    I think that The Craptacular should give out “Luckys” and “Micks” at the end of each season. This Tony Award thing is just a passing fad. It will never catch on.

    And @garrett: “Julie friggin’ Andrews”? I nearly spit up my Cheerios! FTW!

  • johngriffin0928 May 24, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Two words: Marc Kudish

    • Dean Perry May 28, 2012, 1:43 pm

      Two words: Huge ego

  • Darryl Reilly May 24, 2012, 6:01 pm

    To the list of the deceased that have already been mentioned I add Geraldine Page and Raul Julia each with four nominations.

    To the living I add Alfred Molina with three nominations.

  • Michael Dale May 28, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Barbra Streisand did two Broadway shows and then left the theatre for good, so I wouldn’t include her with people like John McMartin, who has had a full Broadway career without a win, and Jane Greenwood, who has been nominated 17 times without a win.

    And I’m sure that even Donna Murphy would agree that Julie Andrews would have won a Tony for Victor/Victoria if she hadn’t declined the nomination.

  • Matt May 28, 2012, 3:05 pm

    Now do the top 8 that should NOT have won a TONY….Catherine Zeta Jones anyone?

    • Jim May 29, 2012, 6:54 pm

      I’ll weep to that!
      Now, if Nina Arianda is overlooked this time around I will be ballistically outraged.
      Many slights but, in all fairness, you do need to consider the vagaries of highly variable competition over the years.

  • Michael Coluccio May 28, 2012, 5:13 pm

    Nice list of eight….but I must say….Judy Kuhn and Gavin Creel, while lovely people I’m sure, do not belong on this list….or in this company. There are DOZENS of others who paid their dues and shockingly have been overlooked for years…Just my two cents.

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