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Actor Robert Prosky Dies

Robert Prosky, 77, a supporting actor with hundreds of film, TV and stage credits, and whose roles included an avuncular sergeant on the NBC police drama "Hill Street Blues" and a desperate real estate salesman in David Mamet's play "Glengarry Glen Ross," died Dec. 8 at Washington Hospital Center. He had complications from a heart procedure.

Starting in 1958, Mr. Prosky began an affiliation at Washington's Arena Stage that transformed him over 23 seasons and 130 roles from a struggling actor to one of the most versatile and prolific performers in a top regional theater.

Among his many film roles were as a station owner who exchanged quips with Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), a longtime executive who gets fired in director James L. Brooks's "Broadcast News" (1987), the defense lawyer for accused killer Sean Penn in "Dead Man Walking" (1995) and a judge in a 1994 remake of "Miracle on 34th Street."
In addition, he played many recurring roles on TV, as the big-hearted desk sergeant Stanislaus "Stan" Jablonski on "Hill Street Blues" from 1984 to 1987 and later as a priest accused of murder on the ABC legal drama "The Practice." He played Kirstie Allie's father on the sitcoms "Cheers" and "Veronica's Closet."
He once told The Post he accepted and turned down the role of a bartender on "Cheers" and was later grateful not to have been a part of the hit comedy because "doing the same role for 6 1/2 years" sent a chill down his spine.

Complete story and photo archive at this link.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  December 9, 2008; 3:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

He was an anchor to every production that he joined and a friendly, familiar face that I will truly miss.

Posted by: ep_Patriot_Vet | December 9, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I am lucky enough to know Bob and his family. He was grateful for his success and continued to love acting; his recent Philadelphia appearance in Arthur Miller's "The Price" with two of his sons was a pleasure to watch.
He would downplay being recognized, claiming his familiar face reminded people of a neighbor or their insurance agent. Not everyone knew his name--or worse, they would confuse him with Charles Durning. But if you knew it was Robert Prosky, if you knew "Rudy" or "Hill Street Blues," his eyes would twinkle and a sly smile would appear. He enjoyed being recognized for his craft. We will miss him a great deal.

Posted by: imperial_driver | December 9, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I, too, counted Bob as a friend for over 30 years. His gift for acting was coupled with the gifts of generosity and kindness.

I will always be grateful to him for offering to meet over dinner with my godson, who at the time was acting in high school plays and thinking about acting as a career. He earned my everlasting gratitude by including with his encouragement the caution that 90% of equity actors earn less than $10,000 per year from their craft.

On another occasion, he gave comfort when I, too, faced a troubling medical procedure by reassuring me (accurately, and from personal experience) that it wouldn't be painful. He even phoned several days later to see how it had gone. He thought to do this in the midst of busy preparations for a theater role in NYC.

I am grateful for having known Bob and will miss him very much.

Posted by: don_chamblee | December 9, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I did not know the man personally. I only knew the man thru his work in TV & films, and thru his Arena Stage & DC area works.

All Actors in their craft, should be like Mr. Prosky. . you might not have known his name, but if you saw the face, you know the character he was playing, would be a memmorable performance.

Thank you, Bob, for the GREAT performances, you have given us thru the years. You will be missed. To your family. . . Thank You for allowing your father/husband to entertain us.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | December 10, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I had the honor of stage managing 'Camping With Henry & Tom', a show that Robert did at the Lucille Lortel in NYC. A kinder, classier, all-around nice man could not be imagined. I still have a wooden bowl and pen he made that he gave to me- he was a fine woodworker. He was a talented actor, but more than that, he was a very fine person and a true gentleman. My condolences to his family and many fans; we have lost a treasure.

Posted by: twocatsltd | December 11, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

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