'Moulin Rouge!' Tony Winner Danny Burstein Thanks Broadway Community for Support After Wife's Death

"It meant the world to us, and it's something I'll never forget," said Danny Burstein, whose wife Rebecca Luker died of ALS complications in December

Danny Burstein and wife Rebecca Luker
Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein in 2019. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Danny Burstein is thanking the Broadway community for supporting his family in the wake of his wife Rebecca Luker's death.

During the 2021 Tony Awards broadcast, airing live on Paramount+, Burstein, 57, won the award for best featured actor in a musical for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, taking a moment to remember Luker, who died from ALS complications in December at the age of 59 just 13 months after receiving her diagnosis in late 2019.

"I want to thank all of you," he said to the crowd, "because, whether you know it or not, my wife passed away in December of ALS, and you all showed up for us. You were there for us, whether you just sent a note or sent your love, sent your prayers — sent bagels — it meant the world to us, and it's something I'll never forget.

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"And I love being an actor on Broadway. Thank you," said Burstein, who brought his son Alexander with him to the award show.

In February 2020, Luker revealed on Twitter that she had been diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Danny Burstein
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Then in January 2021, Burstein opened up about his wife's death in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, writing, "There is a void. Becca was complicated and serious, insanely beautiful and silly, and funny and sexy and strong and stubborn and brilliantly talented."

Burstein said Luker's diagnosis came after she began feeling weak in her ankles and feet. "She had spinal stenosis surgery and we were sure that would solve the issue," he wrote at the time. "But her whole leg started getting worse."

The actor said Luker, whom he married in 2000, experienced a "steady decline" in health after she was diagnosed.

"She fought so hard and held onto every muscle for as long as her body would allow," he wrote. "And despite her body failing so obviously, she was still hopeful. The doctors told us that she 'had the slow-moving kind of ALS.' But they'd obviously been mistaken. She was progressing so ridiculously fast that it took everyone by surprise."

He added, "But still she was hopeful for some new trial medication to come along and save her life. She kept saying, 'I see myself growing old, being an old woman. I just know it.' "

The actress made her Broadway debut in 1988, joining the cast of the Phantom of the Opera as an understudy for the original star Sarah Brightman and taking over as Christine in 1989. She was a three-time Tony Award nominee, receiving her first nomination in 1995 for her role as Magnolia in Show Boat and her second in 2000 for her leading role in The Music Man. Her third nod came in 2007 for Mary Poppins.

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