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Robert Prosky

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Also Known As: Robert Joseph Porzuczek Died: December 8, 2008
Born: December 13, 1930 Cause of Death: complications from a heart procedure
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, acting teacher, grocer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Likable stage veteran who became a busy character actor in film and TV of the 1980s and 1990s, Robert Prosky spent 23 seasons as a resident actor with the Arena Stage Theater in Washington, DC before making his film debut as an initially ingratiating gangster in Michael Mann's "Thief" (1981). He came to prominence as the endearing Sgt. Jablonski who replaced Michael Conrad's Sgt. Esterhaus ("Let's be careful out there!") at the opening of each episode of TV's "Hill Street Blues." Prosky also became a familiar TV face in a succession of TV movies, pilots, and guest spots.Prosky's 1980s feature credits include "Christine" (1983), "The Natural" (1984), "Broadcast News" (1987) and David Mamet's "Things Change" (1988), where he turned in a memorable performance as the avuncular mob boss. Prosky kept busy in the 1990s providing sturdy support in a diverse group of films including "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990), "Green Card" (1990), "Hoffa" (1992) and "Far and Away" (1992). In 1993 he appeared in "The Last Action Hero" as a kindly old projectionist with a magic ticket, in "Rudy" as a supportive priest, and in "Mrs. Doubtfire," as a TV producer who helps out Robin Williams.

Likable stage veteran who became a busy character actor in film and TV of the 1980s and 1990s, Robert Prosky spent 23 seasons as a resident actor with the Arena Stage Theater in Washington, DC before making his film debut as an initially ingratiating gangster in Michael Mann's "Thief" (1981). He came to prominence as the endearing Sgt. Jablonski who replaced Michael Conrad's Sgt. Esterhaus ("Let's be careful out there!") at the opening of each episode of TV's "Hill Street Blues." Prosky also became a familiar TV face in a succession of TV movies, pilots, and guest spots.

Prosky's 1980s feature credits include "Christine" (1983), "The Natural" (1984), "Broadcast News" (1987) and David Mamet's "Things Change" (1988), where he turned in a memorable performance as the avuncular mob boss. Prosky kept busy in the 1990s providing sturdy support in a diverse group of films including "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990), "Green Card" (1990), "Hoffa" (1992) and "Far and Away" (1992). In 1993 he appeared in "The Last Action Hero" as a kindly old projectionist with a magic ticket, in "Rudy" as a supportive priest, and in "Mrs. Doubtfire," as a TV producer who helps out Robin Williams.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Skeptic, The (2009)
2.
 Valley of Light (2007)
3.
4.
 Detox (2002) Mckenzie
5.
 Dudley Do-Right (1999) Inspector Fenwick
6.
 Swing Vote (1999) Chief
7.
 Lake, The (1998) Herb
8.
 Mad City (1997) Lou Potts
9.
 Road Home, The (1996) Father Tierney
10.
 Chamber, The (1996) E Garner Goodman
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1945:
At age 15, played the stage manager in a high school production of "Our Town"
:
Joined Air Force and served in the Korean War after graduating from college
:
Received an honorable discharge from the military after the death of his father
:
Returned home and took over the family grocery
:
Awarded a scholarship at New York's American Theatre Wing
:
Spent 23 seasons as a resident actor with the Arena Stage Theatre in Washington DC
1975:
Professional stage debut, "The Dybbuk" opposite Dianne Wiest at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC
1981:
Made feature acting debut in Michael Mann's "Thief"
1982:
First played Kirstie Alley's father in a guest appearance on "Cheers" (NBC)
1983:
Played the evil garage owner in "Christine"
1984:
Cast as the villainous co-owner of the New York Knights baseball team in "The Natural"
1984:
Nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross"
1984:
Played the big-hearted desk sergeant Stanislaus 'Stan' Jablonski on "Hill Street Blues" (NBC)
1987:
Cast as a longtime executive who gets fired in director James L. Brooks' "Broadcast News"
1988:
Starred opposite Sam Waterston in Lee Blessing's Broadway drama "A Walk in the Woods"; earned second Tony Award nomination
1988:
Played a mafia don in David Mamet's feature film, "Things Change"
1992:
Had a small role as Nicole Kidman's father in Ron Howard's "Far and Away"
1992:
Appeared in "Hoffa" starring Jack Nicholson in the title role; again collaborated with Mamet who scripted
1993:
Played a self-deprecating priest in "Rudy"
1993:
Appeared opposite Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire" as a television station owner
1995:
Cast as the pro bono lawyer for death row inmate Sean Penn in "Dead Man Walking"
1996:
Played Thomas Edison in the Off-Broadway play "Camping with Henry and Tom"; co-starred with son John Prosky
1997:
Again played Kirstie Alley's father in the NBC sitcom "Veronica's Closet"
1997:
Had a recurring role as a priest on the ABC legal drama "The Practice"
2001:
Returned to sitcoms as Daniel Stern's father in "Danny" (CBS); cancelled after only airing twice
2006:
Cast in the production of "Awake and Sing!" at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC
2008:
Co-starred with his sons Andy and John in the Philadelphia production of Arthur Miller's play "The Price," in which he played a furniture appraiser who mediates between two estranged brothers (played by his sons)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Roxborough High School: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -
Temple University: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -
American Theatre Wing: New York , New York -

Notes

Prosky was nominated for a Tony for his role on Broadway in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Glengarry Glen Ross" in 1984. For the film, he was passed over in favor of Jack Lemmon.

Prosky stated his "secret ambition" in the "Who's That Character?" column in NYC's DAILY NEWS June 23, 1993:

"To do the level of work on film that I've done onstage. I don't know if that will ever transpire, because I don't have the kind of recognition that a Dustin Hoffman has. In fact, they didn't even cast me in the part I created onstage in 'Glengarry Glen Ross' [The movie role went to Jack Lemmon]. I don't like it, but I do like doing films, and being the character man."

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ida Prosky. Anthropologist. Married in 1960.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Joseph Porzuczek. Grocer, butcher.
mother:
Helen Porzuczek.
son:
Stefan Prosky. Actor.
son:
John Patrick Prosky. Actor.
son:
Andrew Prosky. Microbiologist.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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