Bob Newhart and other Hollywood friends and colleagues of Peter Scolari shared their memories, stories and admiration Friday for the veteran actor who was most well known for his role alongside Tom Hanks on “Bosom Buddies.” Scolari died at 66 and had battled cancer for two years, according to his manager, Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment.
The actor starred in many films and television series, including “Newhart” and “The Good Fight.” In 2016, Scolari won his first Emmy Award for playing Tad Horvath, Hannah’s father, on HBO’s “Girls.”
Scolari also frequented the stage, appearing on Broadway with “Hairspray,” “Wicked”, “Sly Fox,” “Magic Bird” and “Bronx Bombers.”
During Scolari’s 43-year career, he had a lasting impact on several of his co-stars and peers.
“I couldn’t have been raised up by a better TV ‘papa,'” Lena Dunham, who created and starred in “Girls,” said in an Instagram post.
“The shyest extrovert, the most dramatic comedian, the most humble icon,” writes Dunham of (and to) Scolari, who died today at age 66 of cancer. “You had lived enough life to know that a TV show was just a TV show, but also to appreciate just what it meant to be allowed to play pretend for a living – and you never let us forget that this job was a privilege.”
She continues, “I remember when you came back from doing a production of the Music Man somewhere – the theater had basically been a barn, there had been no WiFi and you had no understudy- and you were as grateful and delighted as you were when you were nominated for an Emmy. You bragged nonstop about your kids, you had the best stories – like when you did Circus of the Stars and ‘that’s when I learned to walk a tightrope, there’s not much to it’ – and when we told you that you would be coming out of the closet on the show you said ‘thank you, you can trust me with this.’ Becky Ann [Baker] and I loved every second of playing your family and I couldn’t have been raised up by a better TV ‘papa.’ Thank you, Scolari, for every chat between set ups, every hug onscreen and off and every ‘Oh, Jeez.’ We will miss you so much.”
“I knew that Peter was sick, but his death still comes as a great shock,” Newhart said in a statement. “We were friends and colleagues for over 40 years. Julia and Peter, as a vacuous couple (Michael and Stephanie), were an essential part of the success of ‘Newhart.’ In life, he was a fantastic person, and it was a joy to work together. He will be sorely missed and his passing at 66 is much too early.”
“Newhart” co-star Julia Duffy posted a photo of the pair, captioning it “No better partner.”
“There wasn’t a sweeter man on the planet”, wrote Harvey Fierstein, Scolari’s “Hairspray” co-star, on Twitter.
Robert King, “Evil” co-creator and showrunner, wrote several tweets paying tribute to Scolari, praising his ability to perform and bring pieces of work alive: “He always took a nothing scene and found different ways to twist it, and throw in odd pauses that made it jump.”
Actor David Kaufman said that he was “heartbroken” upon hearing the news, calling Scolari “one of the funniest, most generous actors” he ever worked with.
“#RIP dear Peter Scolari,” actress Jackie Hoffman wrote. “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.”