Nathan Lane

In an oddly prescient move, Joseph Lane (born Feb. 3, 1956, in Jersey City, N.J.) changed his name to Nathan after playing Nathan Detroit in a 1977 production of "Guys and Dolls." Little did he know then, however, that a 1992 Broadway revival of that same musical would earn him a Tony nod and his first widespread recognition.

With rubbery features and an outsized personality, Lane threw himself into performing early to escape what he calls his "bad Eugene O'Neill" childhood. Foregoing college to pursue acting, Lane assayed his first high-profile stage role in 1989's "The Lisbon Traviata."

During this same period, Lane also began to get cast in films, but it wasn't until his turn in "Guys and Dolls" that his Hollywood star became ascendant. Since then, he's appeared in a string of films, including The Birdcage (1996), The Producers and the animated features The Lion King and Stuart Little.