A veteran Broadway performer who also appeared in a string of television roles going back to the 1950s has died. The UPI reports that Dick Latessa, who won a Tony in 2003 for his performance as Wilbur Turnblad in the stage production of “Hairspray,” is dead at 87.
Marc Shaiman, who wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics for “Hairspray,” confirmed Latessa’s death on Facebook, where Shaiman wrote: “‘Hairspray’ (and Broadway) has lost a huge piece of its heart. RIP to the glorious, loving and much loved Dick Latessa. This was a man who defined Pro, with the timing of a Swiss watch and a voice, a smile and sweet soul that made you feel special just to know him. We were lucky to have him in our lives, he was, truly, timeless. Love to my ‘Hairspray’ OBC and extended family tonight.”
Latessa’s Broadway career included roles in “Follies,” “Rags,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Cabaret,” among many other productions.
His list of TV roles included a series of appearances on “Law & Order,” where he had a recurring part as Bishop Durning, along with other roles on the show. He played Father L’Oiseau on “The Sopranos” and had guest spots on “Get Smart,” “Mission: Impossible,” “One Life to Live,” “Spenser: For Hire,” “The Good Wife” and many other shows.
Latessa was a regular on the NBC series “True Blue,” playing Det. Mike Duffy during the show’s one season, which aired in the 1989-90 season.
Dick Latessa in His Tony-Winning Performance — with Harvey Fierstein (as Edna Turnblad) — in 2003 (YouTube)