R.I.P. Peter Scolari, star of ‘Bosom Buddies’ and ‘Newhart’
He won an Emmy for HBO’s ‘Girls’ and reunited with Tom Hanks on Broadway.
Peter Scolari was one of the most prolific actors working in television. Starting in the 1980s, he appeared in projects as varied as The Love Boat, the Twilight Zone reboot and the 1991 Perry Mason TV movie “The Case of the Glass Coffin.” He also lent his voice to two episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, played the father in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and recently won an Emmy in 2016 for his role as Lena Dunham’s father in the HBO series Girls. Titles like The West Wing, Touched by an Angel, The Drew Carey Show, Family Ties and Happy Days also dot his resume.
Of course, Scolari is best known for his career-making role alongside Tom Hanks in the early Eighties sitcom Bosom Buddies followed by his time as Michael Harris in Newhart. In Bosom Buddies, Scolari and Hanks play friends who disguise themselves as women to live in a cheap but female-only apartment building. It was one of Scolari’s very first screen roles, after parts in short-lived sitcoms Angie and Goodtime Girls.
Scolari and Hanks remained friends after their formative experience together early in their careers. Scolari made a cameo in Hank’s movie That Thing You Do! and they starred on Broadway together in the 2013 Nora Ephron play Lucky Guy.
After Bosom Buddies, Scolari played former Falcon’s gang member, Jake, who asks Fonzie to be his best man in the Happy Days episode “May the Best Man Win.” Scolari also appeared in the two-part “The Christmas Cruise” episode of The Love Boat.
On Newhart, Scolari appeared a few times in season two before becoming a regular cast member in season three and eventually appearing in well over 100 episodes. Scolari played the memorable role of Michael Harris, the yuppie producer of Bob Newhart’s local Vermont TV show within the show. As Michael Harris, Scolari garnered three Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Scolari was equally at home in comedies and dramas. He had extensive sitcom experience but also got serious for roles in ER, The West Wing and the 2016 HBO Bernie Madoff miniseries Madoff.
Though battling cancer the past two years, Scolari appeared in the 2019 miniseries Fosse/Verdon and had a recurring role as Bishop Thomas Marx on the current supernatural series Evil. He was 66.