Brad William Henke, 'Orange Is the New Black,' 'Dexter' actor, dies at 56

Brad William Henke, best known for his role in "Orange Is the New Black," has died at 56.
Brad William Henke, best known for his role in "Orange Is the New Black," has died at 56.

Brad William Henke, an NFL football player-turned-actor best known for his role in "Orange Is the New Black," has died. He was 56.

Henke's publicist Caitlin Green confirmed his death to USA TODAY. No additional information was provided.

Henke starred as corrections officer Desi Piscatella on "Orange Is the New Black," which earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series in 2016. He joined the "OITNB" cast for Season 4 and remained a regular on the show until his character's death and the end of Season 5. The award-winning Netflix drama-comedy, based on Piper Kerman's memoir "Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison," ran for seven seasons. 

Henke was born April 10, 1966, in Columbus, Nebraska. Henke's strong stature, courtesy of his former football career, found the actor in several hulking, authoritative roles in television dramas and crime shows. He has dozens of film and TV credits, according to IMBd, including recurring roles in "The Stand," "Manhunt, "Sneaky Pete," "Justified," "Lost," "October Road" and "Dexter."

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Brad William Henke attends Entertainment Weekly's Screen Actors Guild Award Nominees Celebration on Jan. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Brad William Henke attends Entertainment Weekly's Screen Actors Guild Award Nominees Celebration on Jan. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles.

He portrayed Tom Cullen on "The Stand" on Paramount+, a series based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. He was Big John on "Man Hunt" and played Tony Tucci, a man who suffered amputations by The Ice Truck Killer, on "Dexter."

His latest role was in 2022 movie "Block Party."

Acting wasn't Henke's first career. He played football at the University of Arizona and was drafted by the New York Giants in 1989, but was cut from the team during training camp. The Denver Broncos picked up the defensive lineman and he played in Super Bowl XXIV, in which the Broncos lost to the San Francisco 49ers. He retired from football in 1994 after struggling with multiple injuries.

Henke was married to Katelin Chesna from 2001 to 2008.

Last year, Henke detailed health struggles on his Instagram. In May 2021, he posted a video from a hospital bed saying he was "happy to be alive" after surviving a 90% blockage in his artery. "I could have had a heart attack any day but I just got it fixed," he said, while encouraging fans to get their annual physicals.

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The next month, he wrote an update noting he had two stents for his heart and "my spleen and half my pancreas gone to remove a golf sized tumor," but added there was no cancer.

In September 2021, he shared that he was "recovered and feeling better than I have in 15 years."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brad William Henke dead: 'Dexter' actor, former NFL player, was 56