The prolific TV and stage actor died Friday at age 66 after a two-year battle with cancer. Scolari is best known for co-starring with Tom Hanks in the 1980-1982 ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies, playing Henry Desmond and his female alter ego Hildegarde "Hilde" Desmond. He went on to earn three Emmy nominations playing producer Michael Harris of Bob Newhart's character's TV show on Newhart. In 2012, Scolari won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for playing Hannah Horvath's father on Girls. He is the first ever actor to win an Emmy as a "replacement nominee." Scolari also had recurring roles as Commissioner Loeb on Gotham and, most recently, as Bishop Thomas Marx on Evil. Hanks and Scolari remined good friends. Scolari paid tribute to Hanks at Hanks' AFI Life Achievement Awards and in 2016 appeared in a Jimmy Kimmel Live! sketch spoofing a HANKS biopic with Captain “Sully” Sullenberger.
Lena Dunham pays tribute to her Girls dad Peter Scolari: "The shyest extrovert, the most dramatic comedian, the most humble icon," she wrote on Instagram of Scolari, who won an Emmy for playing Tad Horvath on Girls. "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. 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 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."
Bob Newhart calls his Newhart co-star Scolari's death "a great shock": “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.”
Peter Scolari's Emmy-winning Girls performance was a key to the show's success: "As Tad, Hannah Horvath’s father, Scolari brought rare sensitivity and care to a tricky character who evolved radically through the show’s run," says Daniel D'Addario. "It took a great actor to pull off some of the shifts in Tad Horvath over the seasons of Girls, but those shifts always felt, in Scolari’s telling, like the evolution of a person coming into contact with himself. Girls depicted a funny parallel journey among the members of the Horvath family: As millennial Hannah (Lena Dunham) grew gradually disillusioned with life among the sexually liberated creative class of Brooklyn, her boomer parents (Scolari and Becky Ann Baker) began to try living on their own terms for the first time. They met less in the middle than in a sort of upside-down reality where, by the show’s end, Hannah was parenting her elders. This element of the show could, in the writing of the series, strain credulity — Hannah’s parents, both academics, seemed at first oddly cosseted. And later in the show’s run, they became libertine at times that suggested the show was seeking a source of spectacle and oddity. But Scolari, especially, leaned hard on the shared reality of the Horvath family, no matter how far from its origins the show got."
Evil co-creator pays tribute "sneakily funny" Scolari: The late actor's final screen appearance was on the Sept. 26 episode of the Paramount+ drama, where he recurred as Bishop Thomas Marx. In a series of tweets, Evil co-creator Robert King remembered working with Scolari, calling him "one of the funniest—sneakily funny—actors we’ve worked with. 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. To watch Peter Scolari’s dailies was a thrill because he always found new ways to go. He molded the highs and lows of a scene, but always looking for the comic spin, and he’d massage a phrase with each take until he could hear the laughter in his head. This is a real loss. It always felt like Peter Scolari found new ways to wear the priest wardrobe for comic effect. He knew his role was essentially funny, even though he often played straight man to something absurd said by another character. But he knew the laugh was in the reaction not the action. Beyond everything else, Peter Scolari was a mensch, a hard worker, a thoughtful actor, always a pleasure on a set. This feels like a very depressing day. Writing about him makes it a bit easier, but not really."
Evil star Aasif Mandvi shares a video of Scolari dancing on set: "My dear Peter. I’m devastated," Mandvi tweeted "Our set will never be the same without you. I will miss your stories, your laugh, your impressions, and your dance. We lost an artist, a gentleman, a comedian, and our #Evil family lost a friend today. Keep dancing my friend. I will miss you."