Brad William Henke: 'Orange is the New Black' and 'MacGyver' star dies at 56 after 26-year Hollywood career

Brad William Henke: 'Orange is the New Black' and 'MacGyver' star dies at 56 after 26-year Hollywood career
Brad William Henke attends Entertainment Weekly's Screen Actors Guild Award Nominees Celebration (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: In one of the most devastating news coming out of the Television industry, ‘Orange is the New Black’ star and former NFL player Brad William Henke has died at the age of 56. The news of his death was confirmed by his representative who said the actor died in his sleep.

However, no cause of death was revealed by the actor’s representative or family, per TMZ. His manager Matt DelPiano was shocked when he got the news of Henke’s death and said the actor was a ‘kind man’ who had such a ‘joyous energy’. He added, “A very talented actor, he loved being a part of this community ... and we loved him back. Our thoughts are with his wife and family.”

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Actor Brad William Henke and guest attend The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26592_008
Actor Brad William Henke and guest attend The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26592_008 (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

 

Born on April 10, 1966, Henke attended the University of Arizona and played football as a defensive lineman. His professional National Football League (NFL) career began in 1989 when he was drafted by the New York Giants in the NFL draft. However, he got cut during the training camp. He went on to play on the defensive line for Denver Broncos in the same season and appeared in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers. He played the sport for five years, but repeated injuries in his ankles, which required six surgeries, forced him to take early retirement. Henke played his final NFL game in 1994.

The former NFL player was desperately looking out for work and tried his hand at acting by appearing in several commercials between 1994 and 1996. In 1996, he made his feature film debut with ‘Mr. Wrong’ alongside Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Pullman. Since then, he made appearances in a lot of movies and TV shows. He started getting selected for guest roles in TV shows such as ‘ER’, ‘Chicago Hope’, ‘Nash Bridges’, and ‘Martial Law’. He got his major recurring role in the 2000 series ‘Going to California’ in which he played the role of Andy Lebowski and appeared in 20 episodes.

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Brad William Henke as Desi Piscatella in 'Orange is the New Black' (Netflix)
Brad William Henke as Desi Piscatella in 'Orange is the New Black' (Netflix)

 

On the other hand, he kept on nabbing roles in movies as well and made a name for himself in the industry in a short time. After playing a lot of cameos or guest roles in several TV shows, Henke struck gold with the Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black’. He portrayed the character of prison guard Desi Piscatella and was featured in 26 episodes. He garnered a lot of recognition for his role and received a lot of praise. As a result, he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2016.

Henke also played a recurring role as Big John in the second season of Discovery’s ‘Manhunt’ in 2020 and as Tom Cullen in CBS All Access’ ‘The Stand’ in 2020-21. He was never shot of work throughout his career and got himself solidified in the industry. The actor was last seen playing the role of Captain Don Kubiak in the NBC series ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’.

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Actress Taylor Schilling (C) and the cast of 'Orange Is the New Black' accept the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series onstage during The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26592_014
Actress Taylor Schilling (C) and the cast of 'Orange Is the New Black' accept the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series onstage during The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26592_014 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images )

 

The actor is survived by his wife, Sonja, mother Tammy, sister Annette, step-children Aaden and Leasa and grandchild Amirah.

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