Phillip Bosco, the Tony-winner and film character actor has died from complications from dementia. He was 88.
Bosco was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and attended high school at St. Peter’s Preparatory School. From there, he went onto study drama at the Catholic University of America, where he would meet his wife, Nancy.
Bosco’s first listed acting work was playing Sam Houston in the 1953 historical reenactment show, You Are There. He made his Broadway debut in 1960’s Rape of the Belt. The show would mark the begin of a theatrical career that would span over 50 shows in five decades and where Bosco would excel in works from William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw to more popular fare such as 12 Angry Men and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Rape of the Belt would also mark Bosco’s first Tony Award nomination. He would go on to earn six more Tony nominations and four Drama Desk Award nominations over the years, winning both for his 1989 performance of Saunders in Lend Me a Tenor.
After years of bouncing back and forth between the Broadway stage and guest appearances on TV shows, Bosco made his feature film debt in 1968 film, A Lovely Way to Die. That was start of a 41-year career in film, playing supporting patriarchal roles as either fathers, priest, cops or other forms of authority. His notable film appearances include The Pope of Greenwich Village, Children of a Lesser God, Blue Steel, Quick Change, Nobody’s Fool, The First Wives Club, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Hitch.
One of his last major theatrical roles was in Tamara Jenkins’ 2007 film, The Savages. As a cruel irony, he played an abusive father whose abused children have to take care of him as he suffers from dementia. His last film role was 2009’s When the Evening Comes.