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Richard Dysart

Richard Dysart

Richard Allen Dysart (March 30, 1929 – April 5, 2015) was an American actor. He is best known for his role as senior partner Leland McKenzie in the television series L.A. Law (1986–1994), for which he won a 1992 Primetime Emmy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series after four consecutive nominations. In film, he held supporting roles in The Hospital (1971), Being There (1979), The Thing (1982), Mask (1985), Pale Rider (1985) and Wall Street (1987).

Early life

Richard Dysart was born to Alice (née Hennigar) and Douglas Dysart, a podiatrist, near Boston, Massachusetts, on March 30, 1929. Dysart was raised in Skowhegan, Maine and Augusta, Maine. He attended Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. At the encouragement of his mother, Dysart performed in summer stock at the Lakewood Theater near Skowhegan. He also worked at a local radio station.

He earned both bachelor's (1956) and master's (1981) in speech communication from Emerson College in Boston, although his undergraduate education was interrupted due to his service for four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. At Emerson he performed on stage, and he was a class officer and student government vice-president. He was a brother of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity. He also studied at George Washington University. He returned for his master's degree later, completing it in 1981.


Dysart's acting career began on the stage. He was a founding member of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, which began in 1965. He performed on Broadway in All in Good Time (1965) and A Place Without Doors (1970-1971), and a revival of The Little Foxes (1967–1968) as Horace Giddens, alongside Anne Bancroft. Dysart played the role of Coach in the original Broadway production of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play That Championship Season, alongside Charles Durning and Paul Sorvino, from 1972 to 1974.

In 1979, Dysart portrayed a good-hearted physician treating a dying billionaire in the film Being There, starring Peter Sellers and Melvyn Douglas. In 1980, he played Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in the television film The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd. He voiced the kindly miner Uncle Pom in the Disney English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 adventure classic Castle in the Sky, and the character of Cogliostro on Todd McFarlane's Spawn: The Animated Series, which aired on HBO.

His other movie credits included roles in The Hindenburg (as Ernst A. Lehmann), An Enemy of the People, Prophecy, The Thing (directed by John Carpenter), Pale Rider (directed by Clint Eastwood), and Day One (with L.A. Law co-star Michael Tucker). He appeared in an episode of the 1976 television series Sara.

Honors and awards

Dysart received a Drama Desk Award in 1972 for his role as Coach in That Championship Season.

Dysard was nominated four years in a row for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series between 1989 and 1992, for his role as Leland McKenzie on L.A. Law, winning in 1992.

Personal life and death

Dysart was married three times. The first two marriages resulted in divorce. He and his third wife, artist Kathryn Jacobi, were married from 1987 until his death. He had no children of his own, but had a stepson from his third wife and two step-grandchildren.

Dysart died at home in Santa Monica, California on April 5, 2015, after a long battle with cancer. He was 86 years old.

Selected filmography


External links

  • Richard Dysart at IMDb
  • Richard Dysart at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Richard Dysart at Internet Off-Broadway Database

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Richard Dysart by Wikipedia (Historical)