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Bob LuPone, actor from ‘Sopranos,’ co-founder of MCC Theater, dead at 76

Actor Bob LuPonethe Tony-nominated founding director of New York’s MCC Theater who appeared in “The Sopranos,” died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. He was 76.

LuPone, the brother of Tony winner Patti LuPonehad been in cancer treatment for three years, Bernie Telsey and Will Cantler of MCC Theater said in a letter Aug. 27.

LuPone was founding co-artistic director of the off-Broadway theater. The theater company formed in 1986 as Manhattan Class Company, and was originally a collaboration between Telsey and LuPone, and later, Cantler.

“While the company was ostensibly formed to create new work for the American stage, it was always Bob’s fierce need for engagement with the art, the artists, and the audience that animated and inspired us,” Telsey and Cantler said.

“For many of us, Bob created a sense of community that we had not yet found in New York, and we have treasured ever since,” they said.

LuPone played Tony Soprano’s neighbor and family doctor Bruce Cusamano in ”The Sopranos.”

In one memorable scene (see video below), Tony asks Bruce to hold onto a mystery package for him (the box actually contains sand).

His other TV roles included “Sex and the City,” “Law & Order,” “The Affair,” “Smash,” “Billions,” “Guiding Light” and “All My Children,” for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 1985. LuPone also appeared in the films “The Doors” (1991), “Dead Presidents” (1995), “Palookaville” (1995), “Funny Games” (2007),

Video contains profanity.

LuPone, a Brooklyn native, grew up in Northport, Long Island and studied dance at Martha Graham Studio. He was a top oboe player in high school and went on to college at Adelphi University before getting into Juilliard, where he studied dance. He made his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s “Sweet Potato” (1968).

LuPone was nominated for a Tony for best actor featured in a musical for his performance as Zach in “A Chorus Line— he was first cast as Al but petitioned director Michael Bennett for the role when another dropped out. The show won the 1976 Tony for best musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

After a dispute with a fellow member of the Actors Studio who told him, “Well if you don’t like it, go start your own theater,” LuPone did, with Telsey, one of his acting students at New York University.

Actors Bob LuPone and Patti Lupone in New York City in 1981.Walter McBride | Corbis via Getty Images

At first, the theater company performed in rented spaces across the city. MCC moved into the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space on 52nd Street and 10th Avenue in 2019. The theater company produced plays including “Frozen,” “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” and “Wit,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

LuPone performed in Broadway shows including “True West,” “A View from the Bridge” and “A Thousand Clowns.” He won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Sam Shepard’s “The Tooth of Crime.”

LuPone was also director of the MFA program at the New School for Drama from 2005 to 2011.

The actor is survived by his wife, Virginia, his son, Orlando, his sister, Patti, and brother, William.

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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at [email protected] and followed at @AmyCup on Twitter.

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