Tags: richard dysart | dies | leland mckenzie | la law

Richard Dysart Dies: Played Leland McKenzie in 'LA Law'

Image: Richard Dysart Dies: Played Leland McKenzie in 'LA Law'
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By    |   Friday, 10 Apr 2015 10:23 AM

Award-winning actor Richard Dysart, best known for his role as attorney Leland McKenzie in the NBC drama "L.A. Law," died after a long illness at 86.

He died Sunday at his home in Santa Monica, California, his wife Kathryn Jacobi told The Hollywood Reporter. The New York Times and TMZ reported that Dysart died from cancer.

Dysart was one of the standouts on the long-running legal drama, winning an Emmy Award for his "L.A. Law" role in 1992 for outstanding supporting actor while being nominated for the award on three other occasions.

"I always had him in mind for that role," creator Steven Bochco told the Archive of American Television in a 2002 interview. The series ran from 1986 to 1994. "He's so avuncular. So I reached out to him. You know, Dick is sort of an old hippie. So he went into his closet and tried to find a lawyer outfit, and he came to meet us wearing a suit and tie. He was perfect."

The Reporter said Dysart was one of the few actors in the ensemble cast that appeared in every episode.

The New York Times' Bruce Weber wrote that Dysart played a wide variety of authority roles that took advantage of his "distinguished" screen presence.

"Mr. Dysart was for most of his career an 'Oh yeah, that guy' sort of performer in movies and on TV in roles requiring executive demeanor, kindly rectitude, patriarchal spine or the confidence stemming from success or power," wrote Weber.

"In appearances on television series and in movies from the 1960s through the early 1980s, he played Judge Russell R. Leggett, who presided over the Jean Harris murder trial; the movie mogul Jack Warner; a fictional secretary of defense; and Edwin M. Stanton, Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war. In the 1980s he twice played Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in TV movies, and twice President Harry S. Truman …," wrote.

He was also Clint Eastwood's antagonist in the movie "Pale Rider" in 1985, noted TMZ.

Condolences were shared online.


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Award-winning actor Richard Dysart, best known for his role as attorney Leland McKenzie in the NBC drama "L.A. Law," died after a long illness at 86.
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2015-23-10
Friday, 10 Apr 2015 10:23 AM
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