Emerging onto the British show-business scene as a boy soprano, Michael Crawford sang in the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral. Though he made a fleeting film appearance in 1950, Crawford would not become a full-fledged professional until dropping out of high school at age 15. His first important film assignment was the 1958 kiddie-matinee programmer Soap Box Derby. He enjoyed a flurry of film activity in the mid- to late '60s, playing such singing roles as Hero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) and Cornelius Hackel in Hello, Dolly! (1969). The best of his non-musical film appearances during this period was as the fatally ineffectual Goodman in How I Won the War (1967). His British TV-series assignments have included Sir Francis Drake (1962), Some Mothers Do Have 'Em (1974-1979), and Chalk and Cheese (1979). A familiar presence in West End theatrical productions from 1965, Crawford made his musical comedy bow as star of the London production of Barnum!. In 1988, he won a Tony award for his portrayal of the title character in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Michael Crawford has since performed the score of Phantom, along with selections from other Lloyd Webber hits, as a solo concert artist.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Began his showbiz career singing as a boy soprano.
- Has performed on radio, television, stage and in feature films.
- Made his Broadway debut in 1967 in Black Comedy opposite Lynn Redgrave.
- Used to help his then-wife with her upholstery business by stuffing cushions.
- Best known to U.S. audiences for originating the title role in Phantom of the Opera.
- Auditioned for Gene Kelly for the film Hello Dolly; Kelly described the part of Cornelius Hackl as an attractive idiot, which he thought suited Crawford perfectly.
- In 1990, sanctioned the Michael Crawford Fan Association to support children's charities.
- Moved to New Zealand after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.