Saturday, October 23, 2021

Under the Radar: Peter Scolari

 

I'll let you guess which one is Peter

In 1980, a situation comedy by the name of Bosom Buddies made its debut. Yes, the title was a double-entendre, but for what purpose? The series premise would be considered dated today. Two young men can't find an affordable place to live in Manhattan--that's not what's dated--so they put on wigs and dresses and make-up--that's not dated either; in fact, it's more in the news than ever--and move into a women-only hotel. That's what's dated. Women-only hotels are few and far between these days, and even 41 years ago were on the decline. But the sociological reasons for that decline is not what interests us today. The bosom buddies of the show's title were played by Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. The show, which I recall was pretty funny, went off the air after only two seasons. Hanks went on to become a major movie star, which he remains today, whereas Scolari simply had to settle for being a well-respected comedy actor who worked steadily, was added to the cast of another sitcom that was one of the major hits of the 1980s, then decades later won an Emmy for a recurring role on the much-lauded (and sometimes much-criticized for sexual content) HBO comedy-drama, Girls, and even occasionally worked on Broadway. Not a bad thing to settle for, in my opinion. Peter Scolari died just yesterday. He was 66.


Odd that it didn't have an original theme song, and instead used a Billy Joel cover. Was it cheaper to do it that way? I don't know.


From 1983 to 1990, Scolari played Michael Harris on Newhart, Dick Loudin's yuppyish producer at a local TV station in Vermont, who also carried on a romance with, and eventually married, stuck-up heiress Stephanie Vanderkellen, played by Julia Duffy. This clip doesn't really sum up their comically vacuous relationship, and it's hard to see at times. But it was the only clip that I could find on YouTube under 15 minutes. And anyway, it's still funny. Very, very funny.  

14 comments:

  1. I actually enjoyed Bosom Buddies for a while and was fascinated when Scolari’s star didn’t soar like Hanks, although he had a good career.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mitchell, Hanks and Scolari were equally talented in my opinion, so I have to think one was just more luckier than the other. As I understand it, despite the difference in show biz status, Hanks and Scolari remained friends. I don't know exactly when the picture at the top of this post was taken, but it was obviously long after Bosom Buddies went off the air.

      Delete
  2. Hi, Kirk!

    I was puzzled when I first logged on and saw that Peter Scolari was the subject of your post, an unusual "Mr. Friday Night" edition. My first thought was that Peter must be celebrating a birthday. Knowing how young he is, or was, I dismissed the notion that he could have died. But, to my surprise and dismay, he has. As you noted, Peter died young, left us too soon. He had just turned 66 last month.

    I watched Bosom Buddies, but confess that I was not a regular viewer. That opening credits sequence is another long one as were so many at the time, but it was clever and entertaining. When I saw Holland Taylor's name and face in the cast, it reminded me that she has been in the cast of a gazillion different shows I've watched over the years. As you probably know, Taylor identifies as gay. Since 2015, she has been in a relationship with AHS scream queen and highly respected, accomplished and influential actress Sarah Paulson. Both women are among my favorites.

    I had forgotten that Peter was in the cast of Newhart all those years. His performance as a mime in that scene is excellent. At times, he reminds me of Jack Lemmon. Do you see and hear the similarities, especially when he first bursts into the restaurant? Julia Duffy was an "it girl" of the period. I see that she is now age 70 and read that her son committed suicide in 2019, the last year she earned any film, TV or stage acting credits.

    I best remember Peter Scolari from his role as Wayne Szalinski in the TV adaptation of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Co-star Barbara Alyn Woods is one of my favorite actresses. I was such a fan of the series that I purchased on eBay a hardbound script book from the pilot episode of the show that had belonged to cast member Hillary Tuck, the daughter on the show. The book is autographed by Hillary, Peter, Barbara and the other cast members along with executive producer John Landis.

    Thank you for remembering Peter Scolari, a familiar face through the years and a talented actor who deserved a greater measure of stardom. You did a fine job putting together this same day tribute. Have a safe and happy weekend, good buddy Kirk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shady, sometimes these people die right when I have something else scheduled and I either have to ignore it or someone gets bumped. In this case the one that got bumped was Hayden Rorke, born on this day in 1910, and best know for playing Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie. If it was someone else who died I might have ignored it, but I really liked Peter Scolari on Newhart, and thought it was a shame that he never equaled Bosom Buddies costar Tom Hanks success, even though he did, as Mitchell pointed out, have a good career. I felt strongly I couldn't let this one go by, so, sorry, Hayden, maybe next time.

      I did know that about Holland Taylor. It's been a long time, but I remember her character on Bosom Buddies--she was their boss at an ad agency--being just as hilariously narcistic as she was later on when she played the mother on Two and a Half Men. The earlier character was kind of a dry run for the later one, really.

      Now that you mention it, yeah, I can see Jack Lemmon doing that, but as funny as that scene is, I would rather have shown one with the Michael character at his yuppie best...or worst.

      Delete
  3. I loved him on "Newhart" and was sad to hear of his death. Only two years older than me! Yikes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it makes you feel any better, Debra, Newhart himself is still with us. He's 92.

      Delete
  4. Hello Kirk, In these days of increasing longevity it is upsetting to see that actor Peter Scolari only made it to 66. Actors have the advantage of leaving a permanent legacy through their films and tv shows, and today's technology makes much of this very accessible to their fans.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Jim. If William Shatner can go into space in his 90s, then why couldn't Peter Scolari be allowed a much longer stay here on Earth?

      Delete
  5. He sure played a lot of bit parts on a lot of TV shows. One of those faces when you see him on another different show you say 'where do I know him from'?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, I find bit part players and supporting actors and character actors fascinating, and that's why I do these "Under the Radar" posts. I just should try to do one when that person is still ALIVE.

      Delete
  6. My parents loved Bosom Buddies and Newhart!! I have enjoyed watching the Newhart re-runs. But have not seen any Bosom Buddies re-runs, but would love to if I can find it.
    RIP Peter Scolari!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a few whole episodes of Bosom Buddies on YouTube, JM.

      Delete

In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.