Julie Halston to get special Tony Award for her advocacy

NEW YORK (AP) — Theater actor Julie Halston will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her work fighting the lung-scarring disease pulmonary fibrosis.

The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced Wednesday that Halston would get the special Tony "for her dedication and advocacy in raising funding and awareness."

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The annual award is presented to a representative of the theater community who has made a contribution through humanitarian, charitable or social services. Others who have been handed the award are David Hyde Pierce, Eve Ensler and Larry Kramer.

"I am so genuinely humbled and sincerely touched by this recognition," Halston said in a statement. "I am so grateful to be a part of the extraordinary Broadway community and I am profoundly indebted to them for their support of my advocacy."

Halston's husband, newscaster, Ralph Howard, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and received a lung transplant. She launched the annual benefit concert Broadway Belts for PFF in 2010 when the couple's friend, Mike Kuchwara, the drama critic for The Associated Press, died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Over the years, the concert has attracted such stars as Linda Lavin, Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Judy Kaye, Cady Huffman, Annaleigh Ashford, Randy Graff, Daveed Diggs and Telly Leung.

Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing, hailed Halston as "an inspirational talent both on and off the stage."

"Her unwavering commitment to our Broadway community and to the PF community is unparalleled. Her commitment has resulted in millions of dollars raised to help the people and caregivers afflicted by PF," they said in a statement.

Halston appeared on stage most recently in the Broadway production of "Tootsie." Her other credits include the Broadway revival of "You Can’t Take It With You," "On the Town," "Anything Goes," "Hairspray," "Gypsy" and "Twentieth Century."

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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