Robert LuPone, ‘The Sopranos’ star and theater veteran, dies age 76
Robert “Bob” LuPone, the Tony and Emmy nominated actor arguably best known for his role in hit TV show “The Sopranos,” has died at the age of 76.
He died on Saturday following a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer, said the Manhattan Class Company (MCC) Theater, the influential off-Broadway theater company which LuPone co-founded and served as a co-artistic director.
“He is survived by his wife, Virginia, his son Orlando, sister Patti, and brother William. He is also survived by the profound impact he had on us,” the MCC said. His sister, Patti LuPone, is a Tony award-winning actress and Broadway star.
Born in 1946 in Brooklyn, LuPone studied at the Juilliard School before he landed his first professional job in 1966, in the ensemble of the Westbury Music Fair’s production of “The Pajama Game” starring Liza Minnelli, the MCC said.
Two years later, he made his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s “Sweet Potato.” He went on to become a small screen favorite with roles on TV shows including “Ally McBeal,” “Law & Order,” and “Sex and the City.”
But his most notable television role came in 1999 when he was cast as Dr. Bruce Cusamano, the neighbor and family doctor of mobster Tony Soprano (played James Gandolfini) on the HBO hit “The Sopranos.”
Last August, he revealed during an appearance on the “Talking Sopranos” podcast that he based the Cusamano character on a doctor he previously played in a theater production and simply aged him.
“I had always been playing a bad Italian character if you will and I had that in my soul,” he said.
The TV veteran was nominated for a Daytime Emmy award for his work on “All My Children,” and received a Tony nomination for his performance as Zach in the original run of “A Chorus Line.”
LuPone spent much of his later career focused on theater development and education, opening the MCC Theater alongside Bernard Telsey and William Cantler.
Under his leadership, the MCC Theater produced shows including “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play,” “Frozen” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Wit,” the theater said.
Paying tribute to Lupone in a statement shared on the MCC website, co-artistic directors Telsey and Cantler remembered him as “a force, an advocate, complex in the richest ways, overflowing with a youthful enthusiasm, and deeply wise as he looked in to our souls. He was our best friend.”