Neuwirth was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the
daughter of Sydney Anne, an artist, and Lee Paul Neuwirth, a mathematician.
Neuwirth is Jewish and attended the Chapin School of Princeton.
She began to study dance at the age of five, and chose it as her
field of concentration when she attended Juilliard in New York City
in 1976 and 1977. During this period, she performed with the Princeton
Ballet Company in Peter and the Wolf, The Nutcracker, and Coppelia
and appeared in community theater musicals.
Neuwirth made her Broadway debut in the role of
Sheila in A Chorus Line in 1980. She has been featured in revivals
of Little Me (1982) Sweet Charity (1986), for which she received
a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and Damn Yankees
(1994). It was with the 1996 revival of Chicago, in which she starred
as showgirl and killer Velma Kelly, that she gained her greatest
stage recognition. Her performance garnered her Tony and Drama Desk
Awards as Best Lead Actress in a Musical. She voiced Binky in the
series of CyberChase. In 2004 she mounted a show, Here Lies Jenny,
that featured songs by Kurt Weill, sung and danced by Neuwirth and
a four-person supporting cast, as part of an unspoken ambiguous
story in an anonymous seedy bar possibly in Berlin in the 1930s.
This show was performed in the Zipper Theater on W. 37 St. in New
York, initially only at 11 p.m. on weekends. It was eventually expanded
to include an earlier show. Here Lies Jenny was also presented by
Ms. Neuwirth in San Francisco in 2005. On December 31, 2006, her
48th birthday, Neuwirth returned to the still-running Broadway production
of Chicago, this time in the role of Roxie Hart.
Her screen credits include Green Card, Bugsy, Say
Anything, Jumanji, Summer of Sam, Liberty Heights, Tadpole (for
which the Seattle Film Critics named her Best Supporting Actress),
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Faculty and Woody Allen's Celebrity.
On television, Neuwirth had a recurring role from
1986 to 1993 as Dr. Lilith Sternin, the conservatively dressed and
emotionally repressed psychiatrist who married Dr. Frasier Crane
on the hit comedy series Cheers. She won two Emmy Awards for the
role, in 1990 and 1991. The character also made an appearance in
the series Wings and 11 episodes of the Cheers spin-off Frasier,
which earned her a 1995 Emmy Award nomination as Outstanding Guest
Actress in a Comedy Series. Her additional small screen credits
include three short-lived dramatic series, Deadline (2000), Hack
(2003) and Law & Order: Trial by Jury in (2005), as well as
the miniseries Wild Palms and an episode of Star Trek: The Next
Generation. She has appeared as herself in episodes of Will and
Grace, Strangers with Candy and Celebrity Jeopardy!.