Actor Joel Grey has come out as a gay man, after decades in the closet.

The Cabaret star played the Emcee in both the original stage and film versions of the Kander and Ebb musical – and later played a gay man in the stage version of AIDS drama The Normal Heart.

However, until now the actor – who has two children with ex-wife Jo Wilder – has never commented on his own sexuality.

In an interview with People magazine, he said: “I don’t like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.

“All the people close to me have known for years who I am. [Yet] it took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”

He also opened up about his childhood, and being surrounded by homophobia in the 1930s and 40s.

He said: “[I would hear] the grownups talk in the next room, my mother included, talking derisively about ‘fairies’ and men being dragged off to jail and even worse for being who they were.

“[About that time] I came to realize, along with being attracted to girls, I had similar feelings for boys.”

His daughter Jennifer told the magazine: “I feel very happy for my dad that he has come to a point in his life where he feels safe and comfortable enough to declare himself in a public way as a gay man.

“Mostly because the more people are free to own their true nature and can hopefully come closer to love and accept themselves as they really are, no matter what age, no matter how long it takes, to finally be free of the lies or half truths, it is freedom.”