Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Let's do it to them before they do it to us: Robert Prosky, RIP

Robert Prosky, who had a long and distinguished career in movies (he was the judge in "The Natural"), on stage (he was Shelly "the Machine" Levene in the original Broadway production of "Glengarry Glen Ross") and on television, has died at 78. To me, he'll always be Sgt. Stan "Stosh" Jablonski on "Hill Street Blues," where Prosky had the unenviable task of replacing one of the most indelible characters in TV drama history (Michael Conrad as philosophical Phil Esterhaus) and managed to carve out his own entertaining niche.

15 comments:

Jimmy Aquino said...

Sad to hear. Sgt. Jablonski was in everything. He bears the distinction of playing Kirstie Alley's dad on two different shows. My favorite Prosky performance is his first in a feature film: Michael Mann's Thief. His gangster is one of the greatest film villains because Prosky didn't give an over-the-top performance and he played him as a benevolent father figure for most of the movie, so when his character switches gears during the "I own the paper on your whole f---in' life" speech to James Caan, it's such a chilling moment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ve3LQjLSc

Pale Writer said...

O man. Nick from Last Action Hero. The priest in Rudy. The guy was my TV grandpa.

filmcricket said...

That's really sad. Unbelievably, what I remember him from best is "Outrageous Fortune," but man, he was in everything.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy...that's the VERY first thing I thought of, that scene in THIEF is ecellent and VERY chilling, indeed. I also love it in HOFFA when Devito pulls a knife on Jack and Prosky tells him to get a gun and "go like a white man." NFA!!!

Stef said...

Sad. He acted on the stage just as much as on film, and I've seen him in several shows in DC over the last few years. He always has such a warm, grandpa presence. We'll miss him.

Dave said...

I think I'm one of the few who enjoyed Far and Away and certainly his performance. I'll miss him.

Tony Dayoub said...

Thief: Robert Prosky was excellent in this, his screen debut.

Chris said...

What a shame. If my timing is correct, the American Life TV reruns of Hill Street will rerun Jablonsky's first appearance, in the first episode of Season 5, this Sunday.

M.A.Peel said...

I think he lived for a time on the Upper West Side several years ago. I saw him several times on the Broadway bus, and he was always smiling.

Maura said...

Prosky was in everything, it seemed, and I was always thrilled to see him.

Paul said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Sgt. Jablonski never cold-cocked no woman.

JIm said...

His appearance on Cheers as Rebecca's father was one of my favorite episodes. The only thing missing was for him to take Carla up on her advances.

RIP.

Undercover Black Man said...

I bet he rocked Shelley Levene.

I also remember Prosky's performance in "The Lords of Discipline."

Good Dog said...

The two roles I remember Robert Prosky from is Stan Jablonski in Hill Street Blues and Leo in Thief.

That said, he was one of those few actors that, whenever I saw their name in the opening credits, always made me smile because how ever good or bad the film/programme was, they were going to be there.

Kevin Michaels said...

jimmy Aquino's take on Prosky in Thief was dead on - he was great in an under-stated way. Also saw him in Glengarry Glen Ross where he was excellent (a friend saw him a short while ago on stage in Philly in The Price and said he brought the house down). The kind of actor who could steal a scene by just being there.