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Peter Scolari of ‘Newhart,’ ‘Bosom Buddies’ dies at 66

by The Associated Press | October 22, 2021 at 2:17 p.m.
Peter Scolari arrives at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles in this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo. (Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

LOS ANGELES — Peter Scolari, a versatile character actor whose television roles included a yuppie producer on “Newhart” and a closeted dad on “Girls” and who was on Broadway with longtime friend Tom Hanks in “Lucky Guy,” has died. He was 66.

Scolari died Friday morning in New York after fighting cancer for two years, according to Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, his manager.

He first gained attention as the then-unknown Hanks’ co-star in the 1980-82 sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” in which their characters disguised themselves as women to live in affordable, females-only housing.

The two actors went on to work together in projects including Hanks’ 1996 movie directorial debut “That Thing You Do!” and in 2013’s “Lucky Guy,” Nora Ephron’s play about newspaper columnist Mike McAlary.

Scolari also played on Broadway in “Wicked,” “Hairspray” and 2014’s “Bronx Bombers,” in which he played baseball’s Yogi Berra.

His recent roles included Bishop Thomas Marx on the supernatural series “Evil.” Series co-creator Robert King remembered him Tuesday as “just wonderful.”

Scolari 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,” King said on Twitter.

Scolari received three Emmy nominations playing Michael Harris in the 1980s sitcom “Newhart.” Harris was a producer at the Vermont television station where Bob Newhart’s Dick Loudon worked part-time as a community talk-show host. Through Loudon, Harris met his future wife Stephanie, played by Julia Duffy.

In 2016, Scolari won an Emmy Award for the role of Ted Horvath, father to Lena Dunham’s Hannah, in “Girls.” In the course of the dramedy created by Dunham, Ted comes out as gay and leaves his wife to find fulfillment.

Scolari’s more than four-decade career included guest roles on “ER,” “White Collar” and “Blue Bloods.”

Scolari, whose previous marriages ended in divorce, is survived by his wife, actor Tracy Shayne, who played opposite him as Berra’s wife in “Bronx Bombers.” Scolari’s survivors also include his children: Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton and Cali.

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