Actor Bob LuPone, the Tony-nominated founder of New York’s MCC Theater who appeared in “The Sopranos,” died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. He was 76.
LuPone, brother of Tony winner Patti LuPone, had been in treatment for cancer for three years, MCC Theater’s Bernie Telsey and Will Cantler said in a letter dated Aug. 27.
LuPone was co-artistic director of the off-Broadway theater. The theater company was founded in 1986 as Manhattan Class Company and was originally a collaboration between Telsey and LuPone, and later Cantler.
“While the company was ostensibly founded to create new work for the American stage, it was always Bob’s deep need for involvement with the art, the artists and the audience that inspired and inspired us,” said Telsey and Cantler.
“For many of us, Bob created a sense of community that we hadn’t found in New York before and that we’ve cherished ever since,” they said.
LuPone played Tony Soprano’s neighbor and family doctor Bruce Cusamano in ‘The Sopranos’.
In a memorable scene (see video below), Tony asks Bruce to hold a mystery pack for him (the box actually contains sand).
His other TV roles included ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Law & Order’, ‘The Affair’, ‘Smash’, ‘Billions’, ‘Guiding Light’ and ‘All My Children’ for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 1985. LuPone also appeared in the films “The Doors” (1991), “Dead Presidents” (1995), “Palookaville” (1995), “Funny Games” (2007),
Video contains profanity.
Born in Brooklyn, LuPone grew up in Northport, Long Island and studied dance at the Martha Graham Studio. He was a top phob player in high school and attended Adelphi University before attending Juilliard, where he studied dance. He made his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s “Sweet Potato” (1968).
LuPone was nominated for a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Zach in “A Chorus Line” – he was initially cast as Al, but applied to director Michael Bennett for the role when another actor dropped out. The show won the 1976 Tony for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
After a dispute with a fellow Actors Studio member who told him, “If you don’t like it, start your own theater,” LuPone did so with Telsey, one of his acting students at New York University.
Initially, the theater company performed in rented spaces throughout the city. MCC moved to the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space at 52nd Street and 10th Avenue in 2019. The theater company produced plays such as ‘Frozen’, ‘School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play’ and ‘Wit’, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999.
LuPone has performed in Broadway shows, including “True West,” “A View from the Bridge,” and “A Thousand Clowns.” He won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Sam Shepard’s “The Tooth of Crime.”
LuPone was also director of the MFA program at the New School for Drama from 2005 to 2011.
The actor leaves behind his wife Virginia, his son Orlando, his sister Patti and brother William.
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