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Dick Latessa

Dick Latessa

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Also Known As: Richard Robert Latessa Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Actor Dick Latessa was a staple of Broadway musicals and comedies for more than four decades, including his Tony-winning turn in "Hairspray" and numerous productions of Neil Simon's comedies. Born Richard Robert Latessa on September 15, 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio, he took dance lessons as a young man, but harbored no interest in a performing career until his late 20s, when a musical performance at a theater in Cleveland inspired to audition for a role. Latessa left the Midwest for New York in 1959; there, he appeared in Off-Broadway and touring productions until making his Broadway debut opposite Tom Bosley in the 1968 musical "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N." Latessa also began his screen acting career during this period with guest roles on series like "Get Smart" (NBC/CBS, 1965-1970) and "Ironside" (NBC, 1967-1975) and a year-long run on "The Edge of Night" (ABC/CBS, 1956-1984). But Broadway remained his most consistent and heralded showcase, most notably in musicals like the 1971 Broadway production of "Follies" and the plays of Neil Simon, including the original Broadway runs of "Chapter Two" (1977-1979) "I Ought to Be in Pictures" (1980-1981) and "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983-1986)....

Actor Dick Latessa was a staple of Broadway musicals and comedies for more than four decades, including his Tony-winning turn in "Hairspray" and numerous productions of Neil Simon's comedies. Born Richard Robert Latessa on September 15, 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio, he took dance lessons as a young man, but harbored no interest in a performing career until his late 20s, when a musical performance at a theater in Cleveland inspired to audition for a role. Latessa left the Midwest for New York in 1959; there, he appeared in Off-Broadway and touring productions until making his Broadway debut opposite Tom Bosley in the 1968 musical "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N." Latessa also began his screen acting career during this period with guest roles on series like "Get Smart" (NBC/CBS, 1965-1970) and "Ironside" (NBC, 1967-1975) and a year-long run on "The Edge of Night" (ABC/CBS, 1956-1984). But Broadway remained his most consistent and heralded showcase, most notably in musicals like the 1971 Broadway production of "Follies" and the plays of Neil Simon, including the original Broadway runs of "Chapter Two" (1977-1979) "I Ought to Be in Pictures" (1980-1981) and "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983-1986). Latessa continued to log numerous appearances on television series and the occasional in the 1980s and '90s, including "The Substance of Fire" (1996) and "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007) before creating the role of the eccentric but affectionate Wilbur Turnblad opposite Harvey Fierstein in the original Broadway run of "Hairspray in 2002. Latessa remained with the show for more than 1,000 performances and won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his performance. His prolific stage and screen career continued into the new millennium with appearances in the 2010 Broadway revival of Simon's "Promises, Promises" and "The Lyons" in 2012. The latter proved to be his final stage role, while an appearance in the Bravo comedy series "Odd Mom Out" (2015- ) in 2015 marked his last turn on television. Latessa died of heart failure on December 19, 2016 at the age of 87; news of his passing drew heartfelt tributes from the city's theater community.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Event, The (2003)
4.
 Stigmata (1999) Father Gianni Delmonico
5.
 Thicker Than Blood (1998) Joe Ciccilone
6.
 Cul-de-sac (1996)
7.
 Substance of Fire, The (1996) Mr Mccormack Senior
8.
 Shattered Trust (1992) Jack Karney
9.
 Rockabye (1986) Malcolm Sterling
10.
 Out of the Darkness (1985) "Boss" Tom Messenger
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Milestones close milestones

1968:
Made Broadway debut in "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N*K*A*P*L*A*N"
1968:
Made first television appearance on "One Life to Live"
2002:
Won a Tony for creating the role of Wilbur Turnblad in the Broadway production of "Hairspray"
2012:
Made final Broadway appearance in "The Lyons"
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