NEW YORK – Tony Award-nominated actor Louis Zorich, husband of Greek-American actress Olympia Dukakis, passed away on Jan. 30. He was 93.
The late Mr. Zorich was born in Chicago to Croatian immigrants but played many Greek roles in his career including a grumpy Greek diner owner in The Muppets Take Manhattan. He also played the father of Paul Reiser’s character on the NBC sitcom Mad About You.
Jonathan Mason, a representative at the Buchwald talent agency said Zorich died Tuesday at his home in New York.
Zorich made his Broadway debut in Becket in 1960 and his credits include The Odd Couple, the 2001 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, the 1993 revival of She Loves Me, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2003. He earned a Tony nomination for Hadrian VII in 1969.
But he was perhaps best known as sporting goods salesman Burt Buchman on Mad About You from 1992-1999. “It’s me, Burt! Burt Buchman — your father!” he was known to trumpet when he entered the home of his son, played by Reiser.
“Believe me when I say there has never been a more joyful and delicious human being to see every morning when you show up for work,” Reiser said in a tweet. “Louis had the heartiest laugh and the biggest heart. I will miss him dearly.”
Zorich also had a memorable turn as Greek restaurateur Pete in The Muppets Take Manhattan, giving a confused Kermit the Frog this memorable advice: “Peoples is peoples.”
His film roles included Fiddler on the Roof opposite Topol, City of Hope, Joe the King, and as a Greek millionaire in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Caine.
Son Peter Zorich posted on his Facebook page, “Our father, Louis Zorich, passed last night peacefully in his sleep two weeks shy of his 94th birthday. He was larger than life but an extraordinarily humble man. The best I will ever know. We will miss him dearly.”
He is survived by his wife, the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis; his children, Christina, Peter and Stefan; and grandchildren, Isabella, Sofia, Luka and Erlinda.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report).