Richard Dysart

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Richard Dysart
Richard Dysart (1988).jpg
Dysart in 1988
Richard Allen Dysart

(1929-03-30)March 30, 1929
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedApril 5, 2015(2015-04-05) (aged 86)
Other namesRichard A. Dysart
Years active1953–2004
Kathryn Jacobi
(m. 1987)

Richard Allen Dysart (March 30, 1929 – April 5, 2015) was an American actor. He is best known for his role as Leland McKenzie in the television series L.A. Law (1986–1994), for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award from four consecutive nominations. In film, he held supporting roles in Being There (1979), The Thing (1982), Mask (1985), Pale Rider (1985) and Wall Street (1987).

Early life[edit]

Richard Dysart was born to Alice (née Hennigar) and Douglas Dysart, a podiatrist, near Boston, Massachusetts,[1] on March 30, 1929.[1][2] Dysart was raised in Skowhegan, Maine and Augusta, Maine.[2] He attended Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. At the encouragement of his mother, Dysart performed in summer stock at the Lakewood Theater near Skowhegan.[2] He also worked at a local radio station.[3]

He earned both bachelor's (1956)[4] and master's (1981)[4] in speech communication from Emerson College in Boston,[4] although his undergraduate education was interrupted due to his service for four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.[2][4] At Emerson he performed on stage,[2] and he was a class officer and student government vice-president.[4] He was a brother of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity.[4] He also studied at George Washington University.[4] He returned for his master's degree later, completing it in 1981.[4]


Dysart's acting career began on the stage. He was a founding member of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, which began in 1960.[3] He performed on Broadway in All in Good Time (1965),[1] A Place Without Doors (1970-1971),[1] and in the revival of Horace Giddens The Little Foxes (1967–1968), alongside Ann Bancroft,[5] and That Championship Season (1972–1974).[1] Dysart played the role of Coach in the original Broadway production of Jason Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning play, That Championship Season, alongside Charles Durning in 1973.[6]

In 1979, Dysart portrayed a good-hearted physician in the film Being There,[7] starring Peter Sellers and Melvyn Douglas. In 1980, he played Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in the television film The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd.[7] He voiced the kindly miner Uncle Pom in the Disney English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 adventure classic Castle in the Sky[7] and the character of Cogliostro on Todd McFarlane's Spawn: The Animated Series, which aired on HBO.[7]

His other movie credits included roles in The Hindenburg,[8] An Enemy of the People,[7] Prophecy, The Thing directed by John Carpenter,[8] Pale Rider directed by Clint Eastwood,[8] and Day One (with L.A. Law co-star Michael Tucker).[8] He appeared in an episode of the 1976 CBS television series Sara.[7]

Honors and awards[edit]

Dysart received a Drama Desk Award in 1972 for his role as Coach in That Championship Season.[5]

Dysard was nominated four years in a row for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series between 1989 and 1992,[5] for his role as Leland McKenzie on L.A. Law, winning just the once in 1992.[5]

Personal life and death[edit]

Dysart was married three times. The first two marriages resulted in divorce. He and his third wife, artist Kathryn Jacobi, were married from 1987 until his death. He had no children of his own, but had a stepson from his third wife and two step-grandchildren.[2]

Dysart died at home in Santa Monica, California on April 5, 2015, after a long battle with cancer.[2] He was 86 years old.[3]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Richard A. Dysart". Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Weber, Bruce (April 9, 2015). "Richard Dysart, 86, of 'L.A. Law,' Dies; Familiar as Authority Figure". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Richard Dysart, who starred in 'L.A. Law,' dies at 86". Associated Press. April 9, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dysart '56, MS '81, dies at age 86". April 15, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-18.
  5. ^ a b c d "Richard Dysart Awrds & nominations". Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "That Championship Season, Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45TH ST., New York, NY". Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Richard Dysart". Retrieved 2 December 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d "Richard Dysart, Emmy winner for L.A. Law, dead at 86". April 9, 2015.

External links[edit]