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).
Robert Józef Porzuczek
December 13, 1930
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||December 8, 2008 (aged 77)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.|
|Other names||Robert Józef Prosky|
|Children||3, including John Prosky|
Prosky, a Polish American, was born in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Helen (Kuhn) and Joseph Porzuczek. His father was a grocer and butcher. 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. He also served in the Air Force during the Korean War, but got a hardship discharge to help with the family store when his father died suddenly.
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. Prosky also portrayed Jake "the Snake" Connolly on a two-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 appeared in two films, Dead Man Walking and The Chamber, with actor Raymond J. Barry. He received or was nominated for two Tony awards, two Helen Hayes awards, an Emmy, the Drama Desk award, and the American Express Tribute To An American Actor. He continued to perform on stage and present lectures on his long career at universities, film festivals, for theater benefits, business groups and on cruises.
Prosky died on December 8, 2008, five days before his 78th birthday. His son John said that the cause was complications of heart surgery at the Washington Hospital Center. 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."
Playbill described him: "He was best suited to playing salt-of-the-earth characters, sometimes with a mischievous or slightly sinister edge."
- The Brink's Job (1978) - Cop in Police Lineup (uncredited)
- Thief (1981) - Leo
- World War III (1982) - General Rudenski
- Hanky Panky (1982) - Hiram Calder
- Monsignor (1982) - Bishop Walkman
- The Lords of Discipline (1983) - LTC Thomas "The Bear" Berrineau
- John Carpenter's Christine (1983) - Will Darnell
- The Keep (1983) - Father Fonescu
- The Natural (1984) - The Judge (team owner)
- Outrageous Fortune (1987) - Stanislav Korzenowski
- Big Shots (1987) - Keegan
- Broadcast News (1987) - Ernie Merriman
- The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988, Miniseries) - Thomas Edward Watson
- The Great Outdoors (1988) - Wally
- Things Change (1988) - Joseph 'Don Giuseppe' Vincent
- The Heist (1989) - Dancer
- Loose Cannons (1990) - Von Metz
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) - Grandpa Fred
- Funny About Love (1990) - Emil Thomas "E.T." Bergman
- Green Card (1990) - Brontë's Lawyer
- Age Isn't Everything (1991) - Grandpa Irving
- Far and Away (1992) - Daniel Christie
- Hoffa (1992) - Billy Flynn
- Last Action Hero (1993) - Nick
- Rudy (1993) - Father Cavanaugh
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - Jonathan Lundy
- Miracle on 34th Street (1994) - Judge Henry Harper
- The Scarlet Letter (1995) - Horace Stonehall
- Dead Man Walking (1995) - Hilton Barber
- The Chamber (1996) - E. Garner Goodman
- Mad City (1997) - Lou Potts
- The Lake (1998) - Herb
- Dudley Do-Right (1999) - Inspector Fenwick
- Eye See You (2002) - McKenzie
- Death to Smoochy (2002) - Network Chairman (uncredited)
- Suits on the Loose (2005) - Bishop Hollister
- The Skeptic (2008) - Father Wymond (final film role)
- Hill Street Blues (1984–1987) - Sgt. Stan Jablonski
- Murder She Wrote (1987) - Bishop Patrick Shea
- The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988) - Tom Watson 
- From the Dead of Night (1989) - Dr Walter Hovde
- A Green Journey (1990) - Bishop Baker
- Coach (1991) - Jake "The Snake" Connolly
- Cheers (1992) - Navy Captain Franklin Howe
- Frasier (1996) - T.H. Houghton
- Veronica's Closet (1997–1998) - Pat Chase
|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|
- Davis, Sally Ogle (September 6, 2001). "Television Jews: How Jewish Is Too Jewish?". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- Bernstein, Adam (December 10, 2008). "Robert Prosky, Phila.-born character actor". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Who's who in Entertainment. 1. Marquis Who's Who. 1989. ISBN 9780837918501.
- Robert Prosky biography Film Reference.
- Robert Prosky Biography - Yahoo! Movies[dead link]
- Bernstein, Adam (December 10, 2008). "Robert Prosky; D.C. Actor Appeared on 'Hill Street Blues'". The Washington Post.
- Robert Prosky, 77, an Actor of Wide Range and Acumen, Is Dead. The New York Times via Internet Archive. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
- Simonson, Robert (December 9, 2008). "Robert Prosky, Seasoned Actor of Stage, Film and Television, Dies at 77". Playbill. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013.
- Sullivan, Patricia (December 9, 2008). "Actor Robert Prosky Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 December 2008.
- Martin, Douglas. (December 11, 2008). "Robert Prosky, 77, an Actor of Wide Range and Acumen, Is Dead" The New York Times.
- Murder of Mary Phagan Turner Classic Movies, accessed December 18, 2015
- From the Dead of Night Turner Classic Movies, accessed December 18, 2015