Richard Dysart, Emmy-winning actor, died at age 86

By Updated at 2015-04-09 22:53:17 +0000

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Richard Dysart, who also played Coach in the original 1972 Broadway production of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning "That Championship Season," died Sunday at home in Santa Monica after a long illness, his wife, artist Kathryn Jacobi, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The acclaimed "L.A. Law" — created by Steven Bochco (who eventually handed off the series to David E. Kelley) and Terry Louise Fisher — aired for eight seasons from 1986 to 1994. For playing the founder of the firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, Dysart was nominated for the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for four straight years, finally winning the trophy in 1992.

"I always had him in mind for that role," Bochco said in a 2002 interview with the Archive of American Television. "He's so avuncular. So I reached out to him. You know, Dick is sort of an old hippie. So he went into his closet and tried to find a lawyer outfit, and he came to meet us wearing a suit and tie. He was perfect."

"We got together, mapped out the character's past to give us a basis from which to work, and it's all gone smoothly since then," Dysart said in a 1990 interview with The Seattle Times. "Sometimes I worry — it's all been going too well — a role I love to play in a series that's about as good as you can get. Something's wrong!"

Perhaps Dysart's most memorable character arc on the show was when he was found in bed with power-hungry competitor Rosalind Shays (played by Diana Muldaur). He was one of the few actors to appear in every episode.

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