According to his agent and manager, Brad William Henke, a veteran character actor known for his work on “Orange Is the New Black” and other shows, has died.
He was 56.
“Brad Henke was a wonderful man with boundless energy. He was a very talented actor who enjoyed being a part of this community….and we reciprocated “Matt DelPiano, his manager, wrote in an Instagram statement. “Our thoughts are with his wife and family.”
Henke “died peacefully in his sleep” on November 29, according to Sheree Cohen, Henke’s agent.
He attended the University of Arizona on a football scholarship after being born in Columbus, Nebraska, and raised in Littleton, Colorado.
Henke was drafted into the National Football League by the New York Giants in 1989 as a standout defensive lineman, team captain, and All-Academic student journalist. He eventually made it to the roster for the Denver Broncos and played in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers.
Injuries forced him to retire from the NFL in 1994.
Henke moved to Los Angeles with the intention of becoming a coach, but instead found himself in front of the camera after attending an open call for a commercial looking for “big guys.”
He was as quick to find work in Hollywood as he was on the field, and he quickly amassed dozens of appearances on television shows such as “ER,” “Silk Stalkings,” “Arli$$” and others.
He also appeared in films such as “Space Jam” and “Mr. Wrong.” as a supporting actor.
His breakout role as Desi Piscatella, a gay corrections officer at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary on the hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” earned him a SAG Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series in 2017.
He appeared in over 40 films, including “Bright, Fury,” “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and “Choke,” which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for work by an ensemble cast in 2008.
In the year 2000, Henke opened an acting studio in Los Angeles, where he assisted in the development of other actors’ careers.
His outreach to those in his profession also included producing showcases, assisting his students in landing agents, and lending his acting talents to upcoming filmmakers such as “Short Term 12” and “Willy’s Wonderland.”
According to his agent, he was a devoted family man who “visited his mother frequently, loved taking his stepson to soccer games and gymnastics and adored his dog, Ruby”
Henke is survived by his mother Tammy, sister Annette, wife Sonja, stepson Aaden, stepsdaughter Leasa, and granddaughter Amirah.
Leave a Reply