Daytime Emmy-nominated and Tony-nominated actor Robert LuPone lost his three-year battle with pancreatic cancer at 76 on August 27, 2022. The co-founder of the Off-Broadway MCC Theatre and older brother to actress Patti LuPone, LuPone lived and breathed for the theater.
Robert LuPone: A Passion For Acting
Robert LuPone was born on July 29, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York, to housewife Angela Louise and Orlando Joseph LuPone, a school principal. He was just six years old when his passion for the arts was sparked by his younger sister Patti’s performance in a colorful hula skirt at the PTA Dance. He started taking tap dancing lessons the following year, before eventually enrolling in the renowned Martha Graham Studio, where he studied with Martha Graham herself when he was a teen.
An improvised audition gained him admission to Juilliard, the world-famous school for performing arts education, where he earned a BFA in Dance. By 1966, he was performing in an ensemble of The Pajama Game with Liza Minnelli. LuPone made his Broadway debut two years later in Noel Coward’s Sweet Potato.
LuPone landed the role of Al in the original production of The Chorus Line, but when another actor departed, he asked to audition for the actor’s slot, which he did over the lunch break. He won the role of Zach and earned a Tony nod that same year. The production scored 12 Tony nominations in the 1976 ceremony.
The eager actor quickly began tackling television and film. He played the Apostle James in Jesus Christ Superstar. LuPone added primetime roles in Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II, and The Feather and Father Gang. He also made a name for himself in daytime with such roles as Chester Wallace on Ryan’s Hope and Tom Bergman on Search for Tomorrow.
In 1984, LuPone was cast as con man Zach Grayson on All My Children, who began an illicit affair with Marion Colby Chandler (Jennifer Bassey). After blackmailing his upper-crust lover, Zach was murdered, a scandal that rocked Pine Valley and pulled in main characters like Nina Cortlandt (Heather Stanford) and Cliff Warner (Peter Bergman). The dark turn earned LuPone a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in 1985.
More daytime roles followed as Neal Cory on Another World (1985 – 86), Leonard Brill on Loving (1991 – 94), and District Attorney Leo Flynn on Guiding Light (1989 – 97). He began tacking on memorable credits with primetime appearances in Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Ally McBeal, JAG, Billions, and much more.
The busy actor appeared in films such as High Stakes, The Doors, The Door in the Floor, American Tragedy, Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story, Funny Games, Palookaville, Dead Presidents, Breaking Point, Mentor, and Then She Found Me.
LuPone passed on his love of acting to students at New York University, where he taught the craft to the next generation. It was there he met a student named Bernie Telsey and together they founded the Manhattan Class Company in 1986 — now known as the MCC Theatre.
Robert LuPone was one of the lucky actors who carved out a career to be proud of, worked steadily, and lived his passion every day. He is survived by his sister Patti, brother William, wife Virginia, and son Orlando. Soap Hub sends the most heartfelt condolences to the beloved actor’s loving community of family, friends, and fellow artists.