Brad William Henke, Orange Is the New Black star and ex-NFL player, has died at the age of 56

Brad William Henke, a former professional soccer player who went on to pursue a successful acting career, has died. He was 56.

His manager, Matt DelPiano, confirmed to The Post that Henke died in his sleep on November 29, but did not provide a cause of death.

“Brad was an incredibly kind man full of happy energy. As 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,” DelPiano said in a statement.

Henke’s most famous role came when he portrayed gay correctional officer Desi Piscatella in the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black. That winning role made him a sex symbol in the bear community – a subset of the gay community that loves a bigger and hairier man.

Henke welcomed the recognition, telling Out in 2016, “I mean, I’m honored. I feel great. It’s such a compliment. Who doesn’t want people to find them attractive? Piscatella is a bad character in a way, but the answer I got is that they like the fact that he’s real.”

Henke was born in Columbus, Nebraska and grew up in Littleton, Colorado. Henke played college football at the University of Arizona and was drafted by the New York Giants in 1989 before playing defensive end for the Denver Broncos, including at Super Bowl XXIV in 1990 against that year’s winner, the San Francisco 49ers.

He retired from the league in 1994 with ankle injuries and moved to Los Angeles to pursue coaching – but found a new career in acting.

Brad William Henke attends the Entertainment Weekly Hosts Celebration honoring nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 20, 2018.
Brad William Henke attends an event honoring the nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 20, 2018.
moviemagic

This journey began when his pro football buddy introduced him to a commercial casting call for actors to portray football players.

“I booked the first commercial I ever went out for,” he told Looper in 2021. “It was for Hungry Hunter restaurants. I booked this thing and shot it and it took half a day. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s easy.’ But when I walked in I saw this older man that I saw when I called back so I guess they hired us both in case I fell and burned myself. I was so clueless.”

“I kind of regret not getting into acting sooner,” Henke told The Tucson Citizen in 1998. “But I think my life experiences before I found my calling really helped me. I’m building my career alone, on my own merits, not for what I’ve done on the football field.”

Brad William Henke and Quincy Chad are there "Orange is the new black" in 2016.
Brad William Henke and Quincy Chad in Orange Is the New Black in 2016.
© Netflix/Courtesy of Everett Colle

His last television role was in an April 2022 episode of Law & Order: SVU, playing a police captain. His prolific career has spanned more than 100 acting credits with roles on TV shows such as The Stand, MacGyver, ER, Chicago Hope, Hawaii Five-0, Nash Bridges and Arli$ $”. ‘, ‘The Bridge’, ‘Justified’, ‘Shameless’, ‘Sneaky Pete’, ‘CSI: Miami’, ‘Dexter’, ‘Crossing Jordan’, ‘The Office’ and ‘Judging Amy’.

Brad William Henke is dead
Brad William Henke appears in a Season 5 episode of Orange Is the New Black. His cause of death was not released.
© Netflix/Courtesy of Everett Colle

Henke appeared in several films during his career, including The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Must Love Dogs, The Zodiac, North Country, World Trade Center” and “Hollywoodland.”

This year’s film “Black Party” was his last acting credit.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/01/brad-william-henke-orange-is-the-new-black-star-and-ex-nfl-player-dead-at-56/ Brad William Henke, Orange Is the New Black star and ex-NFL player, has died at the age of 56

Emma Bowman

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