The show flopped with critics and viewers and went off the air in 1982 but has since become a cult favorite.
“We fought and fought and fought to get the drag element taken out of the show,” Scolari told the L.A. Times. “And we never won... The gimmick killed us.
“We did some of our best work in drag, but that’s because you put two guys, who are as serious about their work as Hanks and I are, in dresses and wigs and Joan Crawford hurt-me pumps and we’re going to go after it in the most aggressive way possible.”
After that, Hanks’ career took off and he won two Oscars. Scolari did a few films but worked mostly on sitcoms and reteamed with Hanks a few times.
“It’s a distant second to me to talk about our professional relationship and what we do as actors to where we are as friends,” Scolari said of Hanks in 1996. “We have been through a lot. We have seen each other go through quite a number of changes and dramas and tribulations.”
However, the comparisons to Hanks dogged him throughout his career.
“Oh, there have been moments when I’ve been irritated and offended,” Scolari told the L.A. Times in 1995. “I remember when it became an issue, this almost forced comparison between me and Tom. He’d done ‘Big’ and was on the cover of Time and all this, and we were out golfing together one day and I said, ‘Gee, thanks, pal of mine. Now I go anywhere and everyone says, ‘Wow, Tom’s got an Academy Award nomination for a comedic role, and you’re just on “Newhart.”’"
After Newhart, Scolari began concentrating on dramatic television roles to reestablish himself as an actor to be taken seriously.
“The shyest extrovert, the most dramatic comedian, the most humble icon. You had lived enough life to know that a TV show was just a TV show, but also to appreciate just what it meant to be allowed to play pretend for a living- and you never let us forget that this job was a privilege,” “Girls” creator and star Dunham wrote Friday on Instagram.
“Becky Ann [Baker] and I loved every second of playing your family and I couldn’t have been raised up by a better TV ‘papa,’” Dunham added. “Thank you, Scolari, for every chat between set ups, every hug onscreen and off and every ‘Oh, Jeez.’ We will miss you so much.”
“Better Call Saul” star Michael McKean, who co-starred with Scolari on Broadway’s “The True,” also tweeted his condolences Friday.
“We knew this was coming. Doesn’t make it easier. RIP, Peter my friend,” McKean wrote.
Scolari is survived by his wife and four children, Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton and Cali.
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