Peter Scolari, the Emmy-winning actor who starred opposite Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies and played Lena Dunham’s father on Girls, has died at 66 after a two-year battle with cancer. Via Deadline, the news was confirmed by Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment.
Born September 12th, 1955 in New Rochelle, New York, Scolari’s six-decade career began in 1979, with a guest spot on the Garry Marshall sitcom Angie. His first recurring role came in 1980, as the juggling downstairs neighbor of the women at the center of Goodtime Girls, and he became a household name after donning a blonde wig and chest-enhancing prosthetics for Bosom Buddies. Scolari and Hanks starred as two men who had to disguise themselves as women in order to satisfy the requirements of the only apartment building they could afford, and while the show only lasted for two low-rated seasons, the critics loved it, and neither star ever wanted for work again.
Scolari joined Newhart in 1983, first as a recurring character and then as part of the main cast. He played the TV producer Michael Harris until the show ended in 1990, and his yuppie antics earned him three Emmy nominations and helped the show transition away from its early focus on the main character’s book writing to his befuddling television career. But Scolari’s first Emmy win would have to wait more than 25 years.
Girls debuted in 2012, and Scolari helped kick things off when his character, Tad Horvath, informed his daughter, Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath, that he would no longer be supporting her financially. Tad remained a supporting character through Season 4, when his character came out as gay. Scolari’s poignant and funny performance earned him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Scolari appeared in numerous Broadway stage productions, and his credits also include roles on Family Ties, The Love Boat, The Twilight Zone, The Drew Carey Show, The Nanny, Touched by an Angel, Ally McBeal, The King of Queens, E.R., The West Wing, Gotham, and Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. He also lent his voice to animated series such as Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Hey Arnold!, and American Dad! His final performances came in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons of the CBS and Paramount+ supernatural thriller Evil.
His passing was mourned on social media Robert King, co-creator of Evil, wrote that 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. I will try to collect my thoughts more. He was just wonderful.”
Harvey Fierstein added, “Sad to see the news that Peter Scolari lost his battle with cancer. There wasn’t a sweeter man on the planet. We performed together in HAIRSPRAY for a time and he was always a total delight. Farewell, dear Peter.”
Comedian and actress Jackie Hoffman said, “#RIP dear Peter Scolari. I was lucky enough to work with you and learn from you onstage and screen. A sweet funny cool dude. I hope you get gigs wherever you are.” Check out some tributes below.
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. pic.twitter.com/25z6xgmD3f
— Robert King (@RKing618) October 22, 2021
Sad to see the news that Peter Scolari lost his battle with cancer. There wasn't a sweeter man on the planet. We performed together in HAIRSPRAY for a time and he was always a total delight. Farewell, dear Peter.https://t.co/1TPjakwLT3
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) October 22, 2021
#RIP dear Peter Scolari. I was lucky enough to work with you and learn from you onstage and screen. A sweet funny cool dude. I hope you get gigs wherever you areAdvertisement
— Jackie Hoffman (@JackieHoffman16) October 22, 2021
I'm so sorry to hear of Peter Scolari's passing. He & his wife Tracy Shayne played my grandparents in Bronx Bombers, the #Yankees show on Broadway. They were a lovely couple & so sweet to my Gram & Gramp, even visiting @YogiBerraMuseum to watch the #WorldSeries Rest easy, Peter. pic.twitter.com/LhYAYZUMXJ
— Lindsay Berra (@lindsayberra) October 22, 2021
I don’t have the words to describe what a good man Peter Scolari was, besides being a tremendous talent he was always willing to reach out a hand and help others. He had many gifts in his life and he always shared them freely. Rest Easy, Peter.🙏
— NoelCaslerComedy (@caslernoel) October 22, 2021