Meet Alan Cumming, Host of Masterpiece Mystery!

This coming Sunday, Masterpiece Mystery will debut the first of three new Hercule Poirot espisodes featuring David Suchet as the suave Belgian detective. In the first, Three Act Tragedy, a cocktail party is the scene of a crime. This programming note reminded me of my interest in the Mystery host, Alan Cumming. As I began watching him as the new host of Masterpiece Mystery! last season, I became intrigued by the Scotsman, whose attraction owes much to the fact that he seems such a Cheeky Monkey.

Born on January 27, 1965, in Aberfeldy, Scotland, Cumming is an actor -Mr. Elton in the 1996 film version of Emma, X2: X-Men United, Goldeneye, Eyes Wide Shut and Spy Kids, while on Broadway he's appeared as Mac the Knife in The Threepenny Opera, and as the Emcee in Cabaret, for which he won the Tony in 1998. Cumming is also an author, Tommy's Tale, and once fragrance mogul with his scent, Cumming. Cheeky Monkey

As well as playing host on Masterpiece Mystery! Cumming also plays Eli Gold on the CBS television show The Good Wife, a character who became a series regular this season. Additionally, he recently took up the role of a drag queen in a t.v. drama. His character, Desrae in Sky1’s The Runaway, is unusual not only because he is a transvestite  but also because with his Italian gangster boyfriend Joey (Ken Stott) and the runaway murderess Cathy (Joanna Vanderham) they take in, the threesome are the most law-abiding, functional family unit in the piece.


Cumming has also written articles for magazines, notably as a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine, writing on the haute couture shows in Paris. Additionally, Cumming recorded a duet of "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" with Liza Minnelli to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the September 11 Fund.

In 2005 he released a fragance called "Cumming," and a related line of scented bath lotion and body wash sold exclusively at Sephora until the partnership was dissolved due to a distribution agreement. Cumming lives in New York City with his husband (via UK civil union), graphic artist Grant Shaffer, and their dogs, Honey and Leon. The couple dated for two years before entering into a civil partnership at the Old Royal Naval College Greenwich on January 7, 2007. One can only wonder what ghosts in the hallowed halls of the Naval College thought of that progressive move.


Cumming was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to film, theatre and the arts and activism for LGBT rights. On November 7, 2008, Cumming became a dual-national and was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America at a ceremony in New York City.

Cumming was recently wow-ing them in Alan Cumming: UNCUT at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts  Center. BroadwayWorld.com says, "The show is  a comedic and topical evening of provocative monologues and music and offers an eclectic range of witty, biting compositions, from songs by Sondheim, Bacharach, and Kander to a selection from Hedwig and The Angry Inch. It's not only the music but what Cumming has to say that makes the evening so hilarious and haunting. He played to sell-out audiences and rave reviews in New York at Feinstein's at Loews Regency with a one-man cabaret show based on his recently released his debut album, I Bought a Blue Car Today, Stephen Holden of The New York Times says 'Taking command of the stage with the ease of a vaudevillian who has been treading the boards for decades, Mr. Cumming entertained with a capital E.'"

I knew he was a Cheeky Monkey.

Alan will take you on a behind-the-scenes video tour of the Masterpiece Mystery! set if you click here.

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