Peter Scolari, best known for starring alongside Tom Hanks in the ’80s sitcom Bosom Buddies, died on Friday, October 22. He was 66.
The Emmy winner’s manager, Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, confirmed the news to Variety. The actor had been fighting cancer for two years prior to his death.
The New York native’s first major acting role was in the 1980 comedy Goodtime Girls. Though the series was short-lived, it led to his casting in Bosom Buddies, which followed him and Hanks, now 65, whose characters disguised themselves as women in order to live in an all-female apartment building.
Scolari went on to play Wayne Szalinski in three seasons of the TV adaptation of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. He later played the father of Lena Dunham’s character on HBO’s Girls, starring in 21 episodes. He took home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for the part in 2016.
Throughout his career, he appeared in White Collar, Gotham, The Good Fight and Murphy Brown. Most recently, he starred in Fosse/Verdon, Blue Bloods, Lisey’s Story and five episodes of Evil.
Robert King, who cocreated Evil with wife Michelle King, shared a lengthy tribute to the star on Friday.
“Peter Scolari, who died today, was one of the funniest — sneakily funny — actors we’ve worked with. He always took a nothing scene and found different ways to twist it, and throw in odd pauses that made it jump. I will try to collect my thoughts more. He was just wonderful,” the writer, 62, tweeted. “To watch Peter Scolari’s dailies was a thrill because he always found new ways to go. He molded the highs and lows of a scene, but always looking for the comic spin, and he’d massage a phrase with each take until he could hear the laughter in his head. This is a real loss.”
He continued, “It always felt like Peter Scolari found new ways to wear the priest wardrobe for comic effect. He knew his role was essentially funny, even though he often played straight man to something absurd said by another character. But he knew the laugh was in the reaction not the action. Beyond everything else, Peter Scolari was a mensch, a hard worker, a thoughtful actor, always a pleasure on a set. This feels like a very depressing day. Writing about him makes it a bit easier, but not really.”
David Pressman, who played Mr. Rusnak on Newhart, also honored the late Letting Go actor.
“My time on Newhart wasn’t long but in the few episodes I did, most of my stuff was with Peter Scolari. I’ll never forget how kind and supportive he was and so incredibly talented,” he tweeted. “I was honored to get to work with him. RIP, Peter.”