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Peter Scolari (1955–2021), “Bosom Buddies” and “Newhart” star

by Linnea Crowther

Peter Scolari was an actor who starred as Henry Desmond on “Bosom Buddies” and as Michael Harris on “Newhart.”

TV career

Scolari got his big break starring alongside Tom Hanks in the 1980 ABC sitcom “Bosom Buddies.” Featuring its two stars as young men who dressed as woman in order to live in an affordable women-only building, the sitcom often featured improvisation from Scolari and Hanks. Though it was popular with audiences, “Bosom Buddies” lagged after several schedule changes, and it was cancelled after two seasons. Scolari went on to star as the yuppie TV producer on “Newhart,” starting in a recurring role but being added as a main character after a season.

The two 1980s sitcoms proved to be the height of Scolari’s career, though he continued to work regularly for the rest of his life. He starred in the short-lived sitcoms “Family Album” and “Dweebs” in the 1990s as well as in the syndicated sitcom “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” In his later career, Scolari won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his recurring role as Tad Horvath on “Girls.” He also had recurring roles on “Gotham” and “Evil” as well as in the miniseries “Madoff” and “Fosse/Verdon.”

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Movies and Broadway

Scolari had roles in movies including “Sorority Boys,” “The Polar Express,” and, most recently, 2020’s “Looks that Kill.” He was also a stage actor who played the Wizard of Oz in “Wicked” on Broadway. Other Broadway performances included Yogi Berra in “Bronx Bombers” as well as roles in “Sly Fox,” “Hairspray,” and “Lucky Guy.”

Scolari on his role in “Girls”

“In many ways it’s a new career — not as a situation-comedy actor, but as a single-camera actor in what turned out to be a young, hip, dangerous show. And there was a place for me there. Incredible. If we decline to become set in our ways, that’s good. But it doesn’t always feel good. It can be very challenging.” —from a 2016 interview for Variety

Tributes to Peter Scolari

Full obituary: CNN

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