Robert Prosky

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Robert Prosky
Robert Józef Porzuczek

(1930-12-13)December 13, 1930
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died December 8, 2008(2008-12-08) (aged 77)
Resting place Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Other names Robert Józef Prosky
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–2008
Ida Hove (m. 1960)
Children 3, including John Prosky

Robert Prosky (born Robert Joseph Porzuczek, December 13, 1930 – December 8, 2008) was an American actor. He became a well-known supporting actor in the 1980s with his roles in Thief (1981), Christine (1983), The Natural (1984), and Broadcast News (1987). Prosky's other notable movies include Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Hoffa (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Last Action Hero (1993), Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), and Mad City (1997).

Early life

Prosky, a Polish American,[1] was born in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia,[2] Pennsylvania, to Helen (Kuhn) and Joseph Porzuczek.[3] His father was a grocer and butcher.[4][5][6] He was raised in a working-class neighborhood and studied at the American Theatre Wing, later graduating from Temple University. He performed at Old Academy Players, a small theater in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, adjacent to Manayunk.


Prosky appeared in Thief, Christine, Hanky Panky, The Natural, Hoffa, Broadcast News, Things Change, The Great Outdoors, Loose Cannons, Rudy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Green Card, and Dead Man Walking. In addition to appearing in films, Prosky appeared as a regular on Hill Street Blues, Danny, and Veronica's Closet. He was considered for the role of Martin Crane in Frasier and later made a guest appearance in the series as a reclusive writer. He was offered the role of Coach Ernie Pantusso on Cheers, but turned it down; he later portrayed Rebecca Howe's father on the same show.[7] Prosky also portrayed Jake "the Snake" Connolly on a 2-part 1991 episode of Coach.

He also appeared as Will Darnell, the man who owned the auto repair shop where Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) rebuilds the possessed car "Christine" in the film John Carpenter's Christine based on Stephen King's novel.

In addition to his film and television career, he appeared in numerous productions at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., most notably as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Prosky often performed at Arena Stage with over 100 stage credits to his name at that theatre alone. He played Shelly Levene in the 1984 Chicago and Broadway production of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. He was also a board member of the Cape May Stage in Cape May, New Jersey.

Prosky donated his papers to George Mason University.

Personal life

In 1960, he married Ida Hove, and had three sons, Stefan, John and Andrew Prosky. Andrew and John Prosky are also actors.


On December 8, 2008, Prosky died at age 77, five days before his 78th birthday.[8] His son John said that the cause was complications of heart surgery at the Washington Hospital Center.[9] The New York Times described him: "a craggy-faced, heavyset character actor who after 23 years in regional theater became a familiar face on Broadway, in movies and on television, notably as a gruff desk sergeant in the later years of 'Hill Street Blues.'"[9]

Playbill described him: "He was best suited to playing salt-of-the-earth characters, sometimes with a mischievous or slightly sinister edge."[10]

At the time of his death, he was living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.




Year Title Role Location/Notes
1971 Moonchildren (American premiere) Mr. Willis Arena Stage, Washington, D.C./later moved to Broadway in 1972
1975 The Dybbuk Rabbi Az ielke Arena Stage, Washington, D.C./with Dianne Wiest
1983 A View from the Bridge Alfieri New York City
1984 Glengarry Glen Ross Shelly Levene John Golden Theatre, New York City/Tony Award Nomination/ Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble
1988 A Walk in the Woods Andrei Botvinnik Booth Theatre, New York City/Tony Award Nomination
1996 Camping with Henry and Tom Thomas Edison Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York City
2002 An American Daughter Alan Hughes Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.
2004 Democracy Herbert Wehner Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City
2006 Awake and Sing! Jacob Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.
2008 The Price Solomon Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia; Theater J, Washington, DC / A joint production


  1. ^
  2. ^ Adam Bernstein, Philadelphia Inquirer Obituaries
  3. ^ Who's who in Entertainment, Volume 1
  4. ^ Robert Prosky Film Reference biography
  5. ^ Robert Prosky Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  6. ^ Washington Post article on Prosky
  7. ^ Simonson, Robert (December 9, 2008). "Robert Prosky, Seasoned Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dies at 77". Archived from the original on January 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (December 9, 2008). "Actor Robert Prosky Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  9. ^ a b Martin, Douglas. "Robert Prosky, 77, an Actor of Wide Range and Acumen, Is Dead" New York Times, December 11, 2008
  10. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Robert Prosky, Seasoned Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dies at 77", December 9, 2008
  11. ^ Murder of Mary Phagan, accessed December 18, 2015
  12. ^ From the Dead of Night, accessed December 18, 2015

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