Louis Zorich, the veteran stage actor and husband of Olympia Dukakis who played the father of Paul Reiser’s character on the NBC sitcom Mad About You, has died. He was 93.
Zorich died Tuesday at his home in New York City, his representative at the Buchwald talent agency told The Hollywood Reporter.
Zorich and Dukakis, 86, who won a supporting actress Oscar for playing Cher’s mom in Moonstruck (1987), had been married since 1962.
A native of Chicago, Zorich appeared often on Broadway, making his debut in 1960 in the original production of Becket and earning a Tony nomination in 1969 for best featured actor in a play for his performance in Hadrian VII. He also stood in for Walter Matthau’s Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and was in a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies before making his last appearance in 2003 in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Zorich appeared as sporting goods salesman Burt Buchman on 70 episodes of Mad About You during the comedy’s run from 1992-99. Married to Cynthia Harris’ Sylvia Buchman, he often bellowed, “It’s me, Burt! Burt Buchman — your father!” upon arriving at the apartment of Paul and Jamie (Reiser and Helen Hunt).
On Gary David Goldberg’s much-admired Brooklyn Bridge, Zorich portrayed Jules Berger, an Old World immigrant grandfather who was the husband of Marion Ross’ character, on the CBS show that aired for two seasons, from 1991-93.
Zorich also appeared in such films as Coogan’s Bluff (1968), Popi (1969), Cold Turkey (1971), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) — as the Greek restaurateur, Pete — and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988).
In the early 1970s, he and Dukakis were among the founders of the Whole Theater company in Montclair, New Jersey. In 2009, he wrote What Have You Done? The Inside Stories of Auditioning, From the Ridiculous to the Sublime.
Zorich trained at the Goodman Theater in Chicago before coming to New York City in 1960. He met Dukakis at an audition for an off-Broadway play (neither got the part) and asked her out.
“I recognized there was something special about her, and all of a sudden we were living together” in her Greenwich Village apartment, he told People magazine in 1992. He gave her a 98-cent wedding ring that he bought at Woolworth’s, and they got married at City Hall.
Survivors include their children Christina, Peter and Stefan; grandchildren Isabella, Sofia, Luka and Erlinda; and a nephew, former Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins defensive tackle Chris Zorich.