Richard Dysart, the stage and screen actor who won an Emmy Award in 1992 for playing senior partner Leland McKenzie on NBC’s hit legal drama L.A. Law, died April 5 in his home after a long illness. He was 86.
Born March 20, 1929, Dysart got his start in radio as a teen and worked at New York’s off-Broadway Circle in the Square Theatre in the 1950s. But it was his role as McKenzie on L.A. Law that most know him for. He was nominated for four Supporting Actor Emmys in a row for before winning it it 1992.
On the film side, he starred in John Carpenter’s horror classic The Thing as well as other pics including Hal Ashby’s Being There and Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider. On the stage, he originated the Broadway role of The Coach in That Championship Season for 500 performances. He won the Drama Desk Award for that in 1972.
He also was a founding member of the American Conservatory Theater, which he joined in 1965 before it settled in San Francisco. His Broadway credits included 1965’s All In Good Time and the 1967 Lillian Hellman play The Little Foxes which was directed by Mike Nichols — Dysart played the role of Horace Giddens for all 100 performances alongside Anne Bancroft and E.G. Marshall.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you donate to the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, the repertory outdoor theater in Topanga Canyon, CA.