Robert Prosky was born December 13, 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His father was a Polish grocer and butcher.
Robert was drawn to acting at an early age, performing at Old Academy Players, a small theater in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.
He also studied at the American Theatre Wing before graduating from Temple University.
In 1960, Robert married Ida Hove and the couple would go on to have three sons, two of whom are also actors.
In 1971, he played Mr. Willis in the play “Moonchildren” that began at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and moved to Broadway in 1972.
In 1975, Robert played a Rabbi in “The Dybbuk.”
His first film role was as a lineup Gallery Cop in the 1978 film “The Brink’s Job” starring Peter Falk.
Then in 1981, Robert played the role of Leo opposite James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson and James Belushi in the film “Thief.”
1982 brought him film roles in “Monsignor,” where he played Bishop Walkman opposite Christopher Reeve, and Sidney Poitier’s “Hanky Panky” as Hiram Calder opposite Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner and Richard Widmark. 1983 brought Robert three more films including “The Keep” with Scott Glenn; “The Lords of Discipline” with David Keith; and as Will Darnell in John Carpenter’s “Christine.”
Robert returned to the Broadway stage in 1983 as well, appearing in “A View from the Bridge” and then opened on March 25,1984 as the has been salesman Shelly “The Machine” Levene in “Gelngarry Glen Ross” starring Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds).
Then Robert played The Judge (the baseball team owner) in “The Natural” starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs.
Hill Street Blues
Robert Prosky’s most memorable role, at least to me, was as Sgt. Stan Jablonski in the television police drama series “Hill Street Blues” from 1984 to 1987.
In 1993, TV Guide named the series The All-Time Best Cop Show in its issue celebrating 40 years of television.
In 1997, the Hill Street Blues episode “Grace Under Pressure” was ranked number 49 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
In 2002, Hill Street Blues was ranked number 14 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and recently in 2013 TV Guide ranked it #1 in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time.
Robert Prosky went on to appear in the films Hoffa, Broadcast News, Things Change, Rudy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Green Card, and Dead Man Walking. In addition to appearing in more movies, Robert also went on to appear as a regular on the television series Danny and Veronica’s Closet.
Robert played Rebecca Howe’s father on Cheers.
He also played Coach Hayden Fox’s mentor Jake “the Snake” Connolly on a two part 1991 episode of Coach.
Robert Prosky died on December 8, 2008, five days short of his 78th birthday, from complications following a heart procedure.
At the time of his death, he was living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C..
Now WE know em