The 77th Annual Tony Awards were held this past weekend. Fans of theater cheered as Jonathan Groff, two-time nominee, won his first award. But as I reviewed the winners this morning I wondered, has a Montanan ever won a Tony award?

Some actors from Montana have been on Broadway, but it appears that only one has won a Tony award.

Marilyn Monroe and Michelle Williams
Evening Standard/String, Getty Images

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams may have the most prestigious awards and recognition among Montana actors so far. But despite winning two Golden Globes and an Emmy, she has only been nominated for a Tony award for Best Actress in a Play for Blackbird.

Bill Bowers interview
PBS News Hour via YouTube

Bill Bowers

The very talented Bill Bowers, from Missoula, was in award-winning Broadway musicals The Lion King and The Scarlet Pimpernel, the latter for which he originated the role of Leggett, according to the actor's website. While both shows were successful, Bowers didn't receive an award as an individual.

Pert Kelton in The Music Man
Night Owl TV via YouTube

Pert Kelton

Pert Kelton may have performed in the most Broadway productions of the Montanans on this list, according to Wikipedia, but the Great Falls native's biggest claim to fame is probably originating the role of "Mrs. Paroo" in The Music Man, not winning a Tony. Interestingly, Kelton was also a popular "radio star" providing voices for multiple shows, including The Milton Berle Show.

Autumn Hurlbert singing
Famous in NY Video via YouTube

Autumn Hurlbert

Another actress from Great Falls, you'll probably recognize Autumn Hurlbert from her stint on the reality TV show "Legally Blonde: The Musical--The Search for Elle Woods." (I didn't know she was from Montana when I watched that show, but I totally wanted her to win). She has performed on Broadway, but hasn't been nominated for a Tony Award.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Television, film and stage actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the one that we could find who has won a Tony award. He won the award for Best Featured Actor in a Play just two years ago in 2022 for Take Me Out. 

A note about this article: we tried to get some help from AI with a little research. While all of our queries produced inaccurate information (none of the services we used accurately named Ferguson as a Tony award winner), one AI service flat out refused to do the research saying, "Unfortunately, comprehensively searching every Tony nominee in history to pinpoint their birthplace isn't feasible. The sheer number of nominees (spanning over 77 years) makes it a very time-consuming task, even for large language models like me." 

While this is what we humans found, maybe the power of crowdsourcing can help too. Do you know of any other Montanans who have been nominated for or won a Tony award?

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Gallery Credit: Jesse James

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Living here in Montana, we certainly have our share of "Celebrity Sightings" with many of them having part-time residences in the state. One of the things I hear often is that celebrities love living/visiting here because, for the most part, Montanans tend to leave them alone.

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