Peter Scolari, a prolific stage and screen actor best known for starring on Bosom Buddies with Tom Hanks and playing the father of Lena Dunham's character on Girls, died on Friday after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 66.
His death was confirmed by his manager, Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, at Wright Entertainment.
Michael Tran/FilmMagic Actor Peter Scolari has died at age 66.
Born in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1955, Scolari got his first big break as a television star with a recurring role on the 1980 sitcom Goodtime Girls, on which he played the titular characters' eccentric neighbor. Though the show was short-lived, the network would bring him back that same year to star opposite Hanks on Bosom Buddies, on which the pair played two men who disguise themselves as women in order to secure an apartment in a female-only boarding house.
While Bosom Buddies lasted only two seasons, it led to Scolari's lifelong friendship with Hanks, and its cancelation freed up Scolari's schedule so that he could eventually land a part on the CBS sitcom Newhart in 1984. On it, he played Michael Harris, the producer and boss of local television-show host Dick Loudon, played by legendary comedian Bob Newhart. The role earned Scolari three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
While he kept busy through the 1990s and the 2000s, popping up on shows like The West Wing, ER, and Ally McBeal, as well as leading the TV adaptation of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Scolari also saw his stage career blossom at the turn of the millennium, with him appearing in hit Broadway shows like Hairspray and, eventually, Wicked.
Most notably, he would reunite with Hanks on Broadway in 2013, starring in the play Lucky Guy, written by Nora Ephron. Its run coincided with Scolari being cast as Tad Horvath on the groundbreaking HBO series Girls. After an arc, the character came out as gay and joined his daughter, Hannah (Dunham), to live in New York City. Scolari won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance.
In response to the news of his death, his friend and onscreen Newhart wife Julia Duffy tweeted a photo of them captioned "No better partner.💔"
Meanwhile, Dunham posted an Instagram tribute to her TV father, writing, "Thank you, Scolari, for every chat between set ups, every hug onscreen and off and every 'Oh, Jeez.' We will miss you so much."
Echoing the Girls creator's sentiment, Newhart also paid tribute to Scolari on social media, tweeting "He was a fantastic person & a joy to work with. He will be sorely missed."
I knew that Peter was sick, but his death comes as a great shock. We were friends for over 40 years. Julia and Peter were an essential part of the success of "Newhart." He was a fantastic person & a joy to work with. He will be sorely missed, his passing at 66 is way too early. pic.twitter.com/qGu5wMQKfr
— Bob Newhart (@BobNewhart) October 22, 2021
The actor is survived by his wife, Tracy Shayne, and his four children: Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton, and Cali.