Performed at an early age with his father before being noticed by performer Eddie Cantor, who booked him onto the TV show Colgate Comedy Hour in the early 1950s.
Made feature-film debut in the 1952 musical comedy About Face.
Originated the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret, for which he won a Supporting Actor Tony Award. He later won an Academy Award for the same role in the 1972 film version.
Won acclaim playing the husband of an accused murderess and singing "Mister Cellophane" in the 1996 revival of Chicago.