L.A Law star Richard Dysart dies aged 86

Actor passed away in his Santa Monica home from cancer

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Richard Dysart, one of L.A. Law’s most memorable characters, has died in his home aged 86.

The actor's wife Kathryn Jacobi Dysart confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter he had passed away in their Santa Monica home on Sunday from cancer.

Born just outside of Boston in 1929, Dystart briefly joined the Air Force before moving to New York to begin a career in acting.

Dystart won an Emmy for his role as senior partner Leland McKenzie in the NBC law firm drama L.A. Law in 1992 after being nominated for four years in a row.

The series ran from 1986 to 1994 and he was one of just a handful of actors who appeared in every episode of the show, according to CNN.

"I was trying to make it by doing films and TV movies," Dysart told the Associated Press in 1988. He said he then heard about the part in L.A. Law.

"After I read the script, I called him [my agent] and said I wanted to talk to Steven Bochco [the producer]. My agent said, 'That's funny, he wants to talk to you."'

Before undertaking the role of McKenzie, he took roles as doctors in medical shows such as The Hospital, in 1971, and Being There, in 1979. He created the Broadway role of the Coach in the play That Championship Season and was awarded a Drama Desk Award in 1972.

He also secured parts in films including The Day of the Locust, The Thing and Pale Rider.

Blair Underwood, his co-star on L.A. Law, paid tribute to "a big heart and perfect gentleman”.

Dystart married his wife Kathryn in 1987 and is survived by a stepson and two step-grandchildren.