Dick Latessa, Broadway Veteran & 'Hairspray Star', Dies at 87

Dick Latessa
AP Photo/Richard Drew 

Dick Latessa accepts the Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for "Hairspray" during the 57th Annual Tony Awards on June 8, 2003.

Dick Latessa, a veteran Broadway actor who was in the original productions of Follies, Brighton Beach Memoirs and The Will Rogers Follies and who won a Tony Award playing Harvey Fierstein's onstage husband in the original cast of Hairspray, died Monday, Fierstein said. He was 87.

"This was a man who defined pro, with the timing of a Swiss watch and a voice, a smile and sweet soul that made you feel special just to know him," Fierstein wrote of his former co-star on Facebook. No other details on the death were immediately available.

Latessa, born in Cleveland, played Herr Schultz in the 1999 revival of Cabaret, and Dr. Dreyfuss in the 2010 revival of Promises, Promises. Other credits on Broadway included Broadway Bound, Awake and Sing! and the 1994 revival of Damn Yankees. He was last on Broadway in The Lyons in 2012.

He won his best supporting actor Tony in 2003 as the good-hearted dad in Hairspray, singing "You're Timeless To Me" with Fierstein. When he won the Tony, he said: "Being up here is wonderful but the trip here was the best of all."

His film roles included parts in The Substance of Fire, Stigmata and Alfie with Jude Law. On TV, he made appearances on Six Degrees'The Black Donnellys, The Good Wife and Brotherhood.

Tributes came from all over Broadway. Bernadette Peters said Latessa was "sweet extraordinarily talented" and "he shall be deeply missed." Michael McKean, who replaced Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, tweeted: "Dick Latessa was my man. He is irreplaceable."

Latessa's old role opposite the cross-dressing Fierstein in NBC's Hairspray: Live! was taken by Martin Short in the recent telecast, but creators honored him with a store sign — "Crazy Dickie's."

"Oh, Dick, there was only one you and I'll be forever grateful that I got you all to myself for nearly a thousand performances," wrote Fierstein.


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