Julie Halston (Photo: Bill Westmoreland)
Actress and comedienne Julie Halston, a dynamic advocate for people living with pulmonary fibrosis, will receive the 2020 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award on Sunday, Sept. 26, recognizing her charitable work for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF). Halston, a Board member of the PFF, has raised more than $2 million for the PFF and brought international awareness to the devastating lung disease through the annual Broadway Belts For PFF! gala.
“Julie Halston is a treasure – she is a creative force and an extraordinarily generous advocate for those with this life-threatening and under-recognized disease,” said William T. Schmidt, President and CEO of the PFF. “Her brainchild, Broadway Belts for PFF!, has become the PFF’s single largest fundraising event. We are so thrilled Julie is receiving the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award and we are truly grateful for all that she has done for our community.”
Broadway Belts for PFF!, which features Broadway stars performing their favorite songs and original pieces, has raised more than $2 million since its inception in 2010. The gala began as a tribute to former Associated Press theater critic Michael Kuchwara, who died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2010. Halston is a founding member and emcee of the event. Halston’s husband, newscaster Ralph Howard, passed away from complications from the disease in 2018.
“PF is a terrible disease and there is no known cure yet, but there is hope,” said Halston. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this award, and I want to thank all of the Broadway celebrities who have shared their gifts to benefit this vital cause.”
Since its inception, Broadway Belts For PFF! has featured more than 75 Broadway celebrities, including Stephanie Mills, Daveed Diggs, and Liza Minnelli. In 2018, the reunion of the cast of Hairspray featured Harvey Fierstein, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and Andrew Rannells in a sold-out show. Bernadette Peters performed in the 10-year anniversary celebration of Broadway Belts for PFF! in 2020.
Halston’s recent credits include Tootsie, You Can’t Take it With You, Anything Goes, Hairspray, Gypsy, and Sex and the City. She will appear in the upcoming Off-Broadway world premiere of Fairycakes and the television reboots of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.
The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is the nation’s leading education and advocacy organization for the more than 250,000 Americans impacted by pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and interstitial lung disease (ILD). These disorders are characterized by varied amounts of inflammation, scarring, or both, that damage the ability of the lung to absorb oxygen. The incidence of PF is on the rise, with more than 50,000 new cases diagnosed annually.