Patti LuPone has paid tribute to her late brother Robert as an “unparalleled” dancer.
The actress, 73, spoke about her older sibling on Monday (29.08.22) after it was confirmed her ‘The Sopranos’ actor had died aged 76 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Broadway veteran Patti told Page Six: “My brother Bobby was a dancer unparalleled. And it all started when he saw me in a dance recital wearing a hula skirt. I was four, he was seven.”
Patti and Robert were admitted to The Juilliard School, with Robert, who was three years ahead of his sister, studying dance, while Patti was a theatre student.
The actress added there was a “life-sized picture” of Robert dancing in Jose Limon’s modern ballet, ‘There is a Time’, hung in the photo gallery of the prestigious school.
She said: “A few years later, as a student in the theatre division, I would walk by it proudly, as well as in awe.”
Robert graduated from Juilliard in 1968 in dance, with his talent earning him a role in ‘A Chorus Line’.
He recalled in 1998 about dancing with Patti when they were growing up: “There was a tap dance that we did together, and I have her in a lift. That’s the picture.
“I’m wearing a white, fake silk shirt and white satin pants with tap shoes, and I think she’s wearing a dress with sequins and she had no front teeth.”
Patti added at the time: “When I first saw Bobby dance at Juilliard, it was just mind-blowing.”
Robert also talked about how he and sister worked hard to reconnect after a time of hardship.
He said: “I’m happy to say that we’ve truly worked through any problems, and it’s so interesting to be so close again as we once were.
“What happened is a result of Patti having her own family and being a mother herself and both of us maturing and wanting to reconnect. The devotion we had as kids has been rekindled.”
Robert’s passing was announced by the Manhattan Class Company, known as the MCC Theatre, for which he was co-artistic director for almost 40 years.
In a lengthy statement, MCC called him a “force, an advocate” and “deeply wise”, and hailed him for bringing a viewpoint that “animated every decision we’ve ever made”.
It 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.”
Robert played Tony Soprano’s neighbour, doctor Bruce ‘Cooze’ Cusamano, on ‘The Sopranos’, including in an episode where Tony wound him up by giving him a mystery box filled with sand that the mob boss hinted contained weapons or drugs.
Robert, who started helping the MCC from the 1980s, also played Samantha Jones’ neighbour Len Schnieider on ‘Sex and the City’.
His soap opera appearances included roles in ‘Guiding Light’ and ‘All My Children’, which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination.
Robert was also director of the New School for Drama’s MFA Drama Program from 2005 to 2011, and, along with Patti, is survived by his wife, son and brother William.