With the stars brightly shining and a full moon glistening on the stage, a young man sits at the back of the theatre dreaming that someday he will stand in the spotlight. He would spend hours listening to the first Broadway album his father bought: “Meredith Willson’s The Music Man” and visualize himself performing on the stage he knew so well. The stage: The St. Louis Muny. The young man: Joel Higgins.

 Joel Franklin Higgins was born on September 28, 1943 in Bloomington, Illinois. One of three children, Joel’s parents divorced when he was five, his two older siblings remaining with their father. His mother started his gypsy-styled childhood by moving every chance they could. Among the many stops were Phoenix, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque. It was a difficult transition to always be the new kid in town but Joel took it in stride. At age twelve, Joel rejoined his father in Naperville, Illinois, and was once again the new kid since his father had now remarried and the family included two more children. Adjusting to life after his early childhood movement, Joel graduated from Parkway Central High School in St. Louis.

Music has always been the first love in Joel’s life. Having sung in the choirs at school and church, Joel partly paid his way through college by playing the guitar and performing in coffee houses with friend Hap Dunne in an act aptly named “Hap and Joel”. Graduating with an Advertising degree from Michigan State, Joel tried his hand doing Public Relations for a car company but left after six months to pursue his singing career. He traveled through Europe performing in small clubs.

In 1968 Joel Higgins enlisted in the Army serving in the Special Services as Sergeant in charge of Entertainment for the 7th Division at Camp Casey, Korea. During his enlistment he performed, produced and directed several shows including a production of Stalag 17, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, and The Fantasticks. Sometimes his stage was the tailgate of a truck or the inside of a trench but that didn’t matter as long as he was performing. It would be several months after his discharge that a moment would change his life forever…

Collaborating with his friends from his Army days Joel penned his first musical-comedy revue titled “The Green Apple Nasties”. The premise featured Joel on guitar, vocals, and comedic “intro’s” and “outro’s” to music. While working as a waiter Joel sold the production rights to a producer and The Green Apple Nasties went on to tour the U.S. for two and a half years. During a performance in Louisville, Kentucky Joel was approached by a producer who asked him to play Sky Masterson in a local production of Guys and Dolls. His first acting role would last as a 17-week Midwest tour giving Joel a great learning experience.

After his success in Guys and Dolls Joel moved on to Windsor, Ontario, Canada where he performed in Cabaret. In 1973 he landed the role of Vince in the First National Tour of Grease and toured for a year before leaving to join the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical called Shenandoah.  remained for three years. 1975 brought two very different real-life roles: Joel Higgins – Theatre World Award winner for James Anderson in the Broadway version of  Shenandoah and Joel Higgins – new daytime television heartthrob as Bruce Carson in the CBS soap opera Search For Tomorrow.

1979 took Joel from daytime to prime time with a starring role opposite Andy Griffith in a series called Salvage I. The character Skip Carmichael was an ex-astronaut who warmed the bench for years while others made their space flights. Salvage I lasted only half a season before ABC cancelled the series. In 1981 Joel once again joined the ABC fall lineup starring as Marshall Sam Best in Best in the West. Set in the late 1800s Sam had just returned from the Civil War and uproots his family to move from Philadelphia to the West. ABC uprooted the show after its first season.

During the late 70s and early 80s Joel also appeared in several made for television movies including Bare Essence, Threesome, First Affair, and Killing At Hell’s Gate. With his career in full swing, he also continued to perform on stage in the musicals She Loves Me (1980 with Victoria Mallory and later with Pam Dawber), Oklahoma, Music Is, and Camp Meeting as well as writing jingles for Kool-Aid, M&Ms, and the theme song for Lucille Ball’s comeback series “Life With Lucy”.  Then came the offer he couldn’t refuse…

In 1982 Embassy Television and NBC had a series titled Silver Spoons. Joel would play Edward Stratton III, the self-spoiled, childlike son of one of the country’s richest industrialists. In the show’s opening he would learn he has a twelve-year-old son, the product of his first marriage (lasting all of 7 days). Joel was the only member of the cast familiar with doing comedy and took each of the others under his wing to teach them what he knew. Edward went from the childish playboy to a responsible father and husband but still maintained a touch of that irresistible little boy charm. By the last show, Joel had guaranteed himself a page in Hollywood’s history and a place in the hearts of viewers around the world.

Following the success of Silver Spoons in 1988 Joel co-starred with Katherine Hepburn in the made-for-television movie “Laura Lansing Slept Here”. In 1989 ABC once again enlisted Joel to star in the comedy “Have Faith” as the irreverent, non-traditional Monsignor Mac McKenzie at an inner city Chicago church. “Have Faith” didn’t receive the ratings ABC had hoped for and the series was cancelled after four months.

In 1990 St. Louis beckoned and for the first time of many Joel Higgins took center stage at The Muny. Starring with Victoria Mallory in “Brigadoon”, the two stopped the show when they performed the duet “Almost Like Being In Love”. The two reunited in 1991 in Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate”. 1991 also brought a new love into his life as he and wife Stacy welcomed a son they named Graham. During the 1991 season Joel also starred as “Stone” in “City of Angels” before returning in 1992 to The Muny once again to star with Victoria Mallory in “Showboat”.

Continuing with his musical journey, Joel spent the majority of 1993 collaborating with Martin Silvestri on the music for the upcoming production “The Fields of Ambrosia”. Based on an original screenplay by Garry Bateson, Joel wrote both the book and lyrics for the production. A poignant yet tragic story, “Fields” featured Joel as Jonas Candide (a carnival barker turned traveling executioner) who falls in love with a woman (played by Christine Andreas) condemned to die in his electric chair. Featuring a fabulous score three songs in particular stand out from the rest: “The Fields of Ambrosia” has Jonas explaining the highlights of the afterlife, “Too Bad” shows Gretchen’s more vulnerable side, and “Continental Sunday” is enough to make anyone long for the Old South. “The Fields of Ambrosia” had a trial run at New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse in 1993 after which he stopped in at the Cherry County Playhouse to perform in “The Foreigner”, and with his career coming full circle; Joel took the stage at The Muny as Harold Hill in “The Music Man”.

1995 was spent mainly auditioning “Fields” for potential backer’s along with a concert in Rome with Victoria Mallory and several more in New York with Christine Andreas. In January 1996 “The Fields of Ambrosia” opened in London at the Aldwych Theatre. Despite the successful American opening, British critics weren’t nearly as receptive of the production’s dark overtones. The curtain fell after 23 performances. Not one to let a setback stop him, Joel returned once again joined Victoria Mallory on The Muny stage in “Guys and Dolls”. Having already perfected the role of Sky Masterson, Joel and Victoria gracefully entertained audiences with hits including “I’ll Know” and “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”.

His voyage down the “Great White Way” continued in 1997 with two more performances starting with The Muny’s production of “Three Coins in the Fountain” and then he reprised his role as Harold Hill in “The Music Man” at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. During this time Joel took a break from treading the boards to return to the small screen in guest appearances on the hit shows “Family Matters”, “Home Improvement”, and “Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place” (later renamed “Two Guys and A Girl”).

The 1998 season at The Muny brought out Joel’s devilish side as he starred as Applegate in “Damn Yankees”.  Once again he brought down the house with his rendition of “Those Were The Good Old Days”.  Turning his attention to writing once again in 2000, Joel was commissioned to write the book for “Storyville” and he has penned "Johnny Guitar - The Lounge Western".

So there you have it. Whether he’s on the stage, in the studio, or coming into your living room Joel Higgins is living proof that determination, drive, and love can transform childhood dreams into reality…

Acting      Writing       The Great White Way     Biography      

Gallery         Projects         Guestbook         Shopping        

Fan Club         Home