Tony Award-winning actor Philip Bosco, best known for his performance as Saunders in the 1989 production of Lend Me a Tenor and his starring role in the 2007 film The Savages, passed away following complications from dementia on December 3, 2018. He was 88 years old.
“My beloved grandfather, an indomitable force in the theater and a man of goodness beyond measure, passed away yesterday evening. We will not soon forget your grace, your courage, your resolute will, or the love which you found so easily all around you. You are my hero and a hero to so many other young actors across the generations that strive for greatness not for glory’s sake, but for the love of the art. And let’s not forget your irresistible urge to crack a joke in any setting. I never knew a man that could congratulate and taunt his fellow nominees in a single breath. You will be dearly missed,” wrote his grandson Luke, confirming his passing on Facebook.
Philip Michael Bosco was born on September 26, 1930 and got his start studying drama at the Catholic University of America, where he found success in the title role of Shakespeare’s Richard III. He made his official Broadway debut in the 1960 production of The Rape of the Belt, for which he received a Tony nomination. Across the next three decades, Bosco became a staple of the theater and starred in revivals of Cyrano de Bergerac, King Lear, and Twelfth Night. He followed this with appearances in Man and Superman, Saint Joan, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Major Barbara, Heartbreak House, and You Never Can Tell, winning Tony nominations for the latter three.
In 1989, Bosco won a Tony Award for his performance as the general manager of a Cleveland opera company in the farce Lend Me a Tenor. Around this time, Bosco also won a Daytime Emmy Award for his appearance in the ABC Afterschool Special “Read Between The Lines.” Outside of the stage, Bosco appeared frequently on Law & Order and Damages as well as such films as Hogan’s Goat, Working Girl, Straight Talk, The Money Pit, Three Men and a Baby, Milk Money, and The Savages. He also narrated the 1991 documentary film Coney Island, portrayed Vincenzo the butler in the comedy It Takes Two, and portrayed father of the bride in My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Additional Broadway credits for Bosco included An Inspector Calls (1994), The Heiress (1995), Twelfth Night (1998), Copenhagen (2000), Twelve Angry Men (2004), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005), Heartbreak House (2006) and Finian’s Rainbow before retiring from the stage in 2009. Bosco briefly returned to lend his voice to Douglas Carter Beane’s 2010 play Mr. and Mrs. Fitch.
The American Theater Hall of Fame member married his college sweetheart, Nancy Ann Dunkle, in 1957. In addition to his wife, Bosco is survived by four daughters, Cecil, Lisa, Diane and Jennifer; three sons, Philip, Christopher and John; two brothers, Donald and David; and 15 grandchildren.