Peter Scolari, Emmy-Winning Actor Known for 'Girls' and 'Bosom Buddies', Dead at 66

Following a two-year illness, the actor died Friday morning of cancer

Peter Scolari, known for his roles in Bosom Buddies, Newhart and Girls, has died. He was 66.

The Emmy Award winner died of cancer on Friday morning following a two-year illness, his manager Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment told Variety and Deadline.

Scolari's breakout role came alongside Tom Hanks in the beloved sitcom Bosom Buddies, which ran for two seasons from 1980 to 1982 on NBC. They played two single men who disguised themselves as women to gain residence at a women's-only building, the only apartment they could afford.

The real-life buddies remained close over the years, with Scolari appearing in Hanks' 1996 directorial debut That Thing You Do!, as well as his 1998 HBO limited series From the Earth to the Moon and 2004's The Polar Express.

Peter Scolari
Peter Scolari. Michael Tran/FilmMagic

After Bosom Buddies, Scolari went on to join the CBS sitcom Newhart in its second season in 1984, starring as Michael Harris through its eighth and final season in 1990. His performance earned him three consecutive Emmy Award nominations for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series from 1987 to 1989.

The native New Yorker later appeared in Lena Dunham's hit HBO series Girls as her character Hannah Horvath's father Tad, who comes out as gay while married to her mother Loreen (Becky Ann Baker). The role earned Scolari an Emmy Award in 2016 for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 27: BOSOM BUDDIES - pilot - 11/27/80, Henry Desmond (Peter Scolari, left, in disguise as Hildegarde) and Kip Wilson (Tom Hanks, in disguise as Buffy) are young admen who solve an acute housing problem by donning wigs and dresses to qualify for residence in a hotel for women., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Dunham, 35, paid tribute to her onscreen dad on Instagram. "The shyest extrovert, the most dramatic comedian, the most humble icon. 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 wrote.

"Becky Ann 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," Dunham concluded.

Over the years, Scolari has also starred in such series as Goodtime Girls, Murphy Brown, The West Wing, ER, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show, Law & Order: SVU, Ally McBeal, Fosse/Verdon, The Good Fight and Gotham. Most recently, he reprised his role as Bishop Thomas Marx in season 2 of the Paramount+ series Evil.

Evil co-creator and showrunner Robert King paid tribute to the actor Friday on Twitter.

"Peter Scolari, who died today, was one of the funniest — sneakily funny — actors we've worked with," King wrote. "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."

Scolari was also known for his stage roles, appearing on Broadway in Wicked, Sly Fox, Hairspray and Lucky Guy, reuniting with Hanks, 65, in the latter.

Peter Scolari and Tracy Shayne attend the Creative Arts Ball at Microsoft Theater on September 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California
Emma McIntyre/Getty

He is survived by his wife Tracy Shayne, whom he married in 2013, as well as his children Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton and Cali.

"According to Ms. Shayne, the only thing that matched his love for his family and his passion for acting was his love of being in service to others," his manager Ellen Lubin Sanitsky told Variety.

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