About Peter Scolari
Born Sept. 12, 1955 in New Rochelle, NY, Peter Scolari started his career on the New York stage, which led to several television appearances. His work on the World War II-set "Goodtime Girls" (ABC, 1980) alongside Annie Potts helped bring him to the attention of network executives, who subsequently cast him as one of the two stars of "Bosom Buddies" (ABC, 1980-82), a small screen homage to the classic cross-dressing comedy, "Some Like it Hot" (1959). The high-concept, sometimes lowbrow series found Scolari and a young actor named Tom Hanks playing best friends who disguise themselves as women to take advantage of the low rent in an all-female residential hotel inhabited by a cast of charismatic women, including Wendi Jo Sperber, Holland Taylor and Donna Dixon. Although many viewers developed great affection for the Scolari/Hanks rapport as well as the good-natured show itself, the network pulled the plug before it could complete two seasons.
Fairly or not, Scolari's career would forever be marked by this early association with Hanks: Scolari had the blessing to befriend an actor who would eventually rise to the pinnacle of showbiz while remaining a loyal pal, but he also had the curse of having to live in Hanks' shadow as a punchline and/or cautionary tale of how difficult it truly was to achieve superstardom. At the time of the show's cancellation, however, Hanks and Scolari parted as professional equals, with the latter receiving a new but ultimately short-lived sitcom, "Baby Makes Five" (ABC, 1983). He quickly moved on to his longest lasting and best-received role when he joined the cast of "Newhart" (CBS, 1982-1990) as the uptight Michael Harris, a local TV producer and the quintessential neurotic yuppie. Paired with Julia Duffy's deliciously spoiled princess-turned-hotel maid, Stephanie, and frustrating the low-key Dick (Bob Newhart), Scolari won over critics and audiences alike with his hilarious hyperkinetic character, earning a Viewers for Quality Television Award and three Emmy nominations for his role.
The long-running "Newhart" became a much loved classic across the board, and Scolari remained with the show until the end, when it capped off its successful run with one of television's all-time greatest series finales. Landing such a lengthy, juicy role opposite fantastic talents on a quality program was an accomplishment few actors could boast, but all of Scolari's considerable success came with an asterisk, since Hanks had transformed into a major movie star around this time and was well on his way to becoming one of the most bankable movie stars of all time. Scolari struggled to find a worthy next step when "Newhart" ended, booking small television and film spots before attempting to launch a string of nonstarter sitcoms, including "Family Album" (NBC, 1993) and "Dweebs" (CBS, 1995).
Happily, Hanks never forgot his friend, and gifted Scolari with a small part as a TV host in "That Thing You Do!" (1996), an affectionate look back on the 1960s music industry, written and directed by Hanks himself. From that success, Scolari stepped into Rick Moranis' shoes to spearhead the television adaptation of the successful Disney film franchise "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (syndicated, 1997-2000). Although the series proved to be disposable family entertainment at best, its likably low-stakes production proved endearing to many viewers. Scolari also branched out behind the camera, producing and directing a flurry of the show's episodes. The actor reunited with Hanks again to play astronaut Pete Conrad in the highly acclaimed U.S. space program miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" (HBO, 1998).
Scolari returned to Broadway with roles in shows like "Hairspray" and "Sly Fox" and a string of off-Broadway work, but never stopped notching screen credits. Another high-profile spot among Scolari's constant stream of TV guest spots and voiceover work came as a lonely boy riding "The Polar Express" (2004) alongside Hanks in the animated holiday movie. The film and its CGI approach proved polarizing with critics, although it still turned a healthy profit. The "Bosom Buddies" family continued to reunite when Scolari reunited with Wendie Jo Sperber to voice game show host versions of themselves in an episode of "American Dad!" (Fox, 2005- ) just before the actress died tragically from breast cancer in 2005. Following a supporting turn in the indie drama "Mentor" (2006) starring Rutger Hauer, Scolari retreated to the shadows for a spell, appearing less often on screen. He did play a bumbling FBI agent in the family adventure "A Plumm Summer" (2007) and voiced Ray Palmer/Atom on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" (Cartoon Network, 2008-2011), but by and large, the actor remained largely out of the spotlight. Scolari did re-emerge on the hit cable sitcom "Girls" (HBO, 2012- ), created by young comic phenom Lena Dunham. He played Dunham's father to mother Becky Ann Baker, both of whom cut off their daughter so she can better concentrate on her writing.
By Jonathan Riggs
|Cathy Trien. married in October 1998; has recurring role on "Disney's Honey I Shrunk the Kids -The TV Series"|
|Debra Scolari. divorced in 1996|
|Occidental College, Eagle Rock , California|
|City College of New York, New York , New York|
|Voiced the Lonely Boy in Robert Zemeckis' animated feature "The Polar Express"|
|Cast in the HBO mini series "From the Earth to the Moon" produced by Tom Hanks and Ron Howard|
|Starred in the syndicated Disney series ""Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show"|
|Appeared in the stage musical "Grease"|
|Filmed small role in Hanks' directorial debut "That Thing You Do!"|
|Returned to stage roots in "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off" special for Arts & Entertainment Channel|
|Was member of ensemble cast of "Dweebs" (CBS)|
|Did voice of Preston Vogel on animated "Gargoyles" (syndication)|
|Appeared in feature film "Rosebud Beach Hotel"|
|Starred in series "Family Album" (CBS)|
|Played Michael Harris on "Newhart" (CBS)|
|Starred in "Baby Makes Five" series (ABC)|
|Made TV-movie debut in "Missing Children: A Mother's Story" (CBS)|
|Starred in the ABC sitcom "Bosom Buddies" with Tom Hanks|
|Had recurring role on "The Goodtime Girls" (ABC)|
|Helped to found the Colonnades Theatre Lab in New York City (date approximate)|