The great Peter Scolari, a star on Newhart, has passed away after a two-year battle with cancer, Variety confirms. Scolari was known for a number of different comedic roles through the early 1980s, taking part in some of the more popular sitcoms of the era. He would go on to have a long and accomplished career on both the stage and screen, acting in productions right up until the last couple of years. Peter Scolari’s death, according to Variety and other outlets was confirmed by his agent. It ended a multi-year battle with leukemia. He is survived by his two children.
Prior to Newhart, Peter Scolari first rose to fame during the 1980s when he was cast on the sitcom Bosom Buddies. Though the series only lasted two seasons on ABC from 1980 to 1982, it has become known for a couple of things. For starters, it also co-starred a then-unknown Tom Hanks who was just coming on the scene. The show’s premise was ridiculous, though in line with the times in terms of comedic offerings. Scolari and Hanks played a couple of guys who disguise themselves as females in order to get cheaper New York City housing that is only available to women.
After Bosom Buddies, Peter Scolari would go on to take a role in Newhart. That series had a decidedly better run than Scolari’s first show and ended up lasting eight award-nominated seasons on CBS. The story followed Bob Newhart’s title character who moves to a small town in Vermont to run an inn. As the series went on, Newhart’s character Dick Loudon starts hosting a local television program and Scolari played his producer who ultimately marries the maid at the inn.
Peter Scolari was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1987, 1988, and 1989 (the show’s 5-7th seasons) in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on Newhart. He never ended up taking home the award going up against John Laroquette on Night Court and the Cheers crew of Woody Harrelson and Kelsey Grammar during that time. But it was a testament to how perfect he was for the part to be nominated during this stretch.
Following his stint on Newhart and in more recent years, Peter Scolari continued to work, taking on roles in a number of different high-profile series and miniseries. He played the father to Lena Dunham’s character in Girls on HBO and also Fox’s Gotham where he played Commissioner Loeb the corrupt predecessor to James Gordon in that universe.
The last couple of productions Peter Scolari worked on included the CBS series Evil about the supernatural intersection between religion and science. In the series, Scolari played a recurring character Bishop Marx. He was also involved with the Apple TV+ series Lisey’s Story based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.
From a Hollywood perspective, Peter Scolari had a long and accomplished career. It’s rare for anyone to work consistently for decades and Scolari did just that, making each one of his roles a memorable one. He will be missed.