Actor Brad William Henke, best known for playing Desi Piscatella, a corrections officer on “Orange is the New Black,” has passed away at age 56.
Henke was born in Nebraska and previously played professional football for the Denver Broncos but retired in 1994 due to injuries in order to pursue a coaching career.
Although the cause of his death was not disclosed, the actor had previously shared the worrisome state of his health on his Instagram handle.
His agent, Sheree Cohen, revealed how he died and had only good things to say about the “Justified” actor.
Read on to learn more.
Brad William Henke Dies In His Sleep
“Orange is the new black” actor Brad William Henke died in the later hours of Tuesday, November 29.
His agent, Sheree Cohen, confirmed the news in a statement to E!, saying that the actor died “in his sleep.”
The former NFL player was born on April 10, 1966, in Nebraska and attended the University of Arizona on a football scholarship, after which he went on to play for the Denver Broncos.
Henke played in the 1990 Super Bowl XXVI but suffered a stint of injury afterward, forcing his retirement from the game in 1994. The actor, 56 at his passing, also starred in TV series like “Lost,” “Dexter,” and “ER,” to mention a few.
He’s best known for starring in Netflix’s “Orange is the new black” as Desi Piscatella, a role which earned him and the cast a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2017.
Speaking on his passing, his manager Matt Delpiano praised the late star for his kindness. He said per E! News, “Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy.”
Henke Previously Suffered Health Complications
It is unknown if the former football player’s disclosure of major health issues he experienced in 2021 via Instagram had anything to do with his passing.
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In a post on May 15, 2021, Henke advised his followers to “always check on their health,” saying, “I just survived a 90% blockage of my artery, I could have had a heart attack any day but I just got it fixed”, adding that the rest of his time “is a gift,” and he was “going to take advantage of it.”
In a separate Instagram post on June 29, 2021, he said, “2 stents for my heart and my spleen, and half my pancreas gone to remove a golf-sized tumor”.
The “Justified” actor’s cause of death is yet to be revealed as the autopsy report hasn’t been released.
Henke’s Career At A Glance
Henke was a defensive lineman in college at the University of Arizona before being drafted by the New York Giants in 1989.
He notably played for the Denver Broncos against the San Francisco 49ers during the Super Bowl XXIV game. After suffering injuries in 1994, Henke decided to pull the curtain on his football career and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a coaching career.
According to Us Weekly, He put in for an open call looking for “big guys” to do a commercial that changed his career’s trajectory into acting. He landed his first major role on the 2000-2002 WB Network’s comedy “Nikki” alongside Nikki Cox and also featured a small part in a number of series during the early 2000s.
Henke got his second regular series on ABC’s short-lived drama “October Road,” and guest starred on series such as “Law and Order,” “Life on Mars,” “CSI Miami,” “Lost,” and many more.
He is most popular for his role in the dramedy “Orange is the new black” as Desi Piscatella, a gay corrections officer at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary. The late star appeared in more than a dozen episodes of the show and shared a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2017.
Henke’s Personal Life
Henke was married to actress Katelin Chesna from 2001 to 2008 and later married Sonja, who he raised stepson, Aaden and stepdaughter Leasa with.
The actor and former NFL player is survived by his mother, Tammy; his sister, Annette; his wife, Sonja, along with stepson and stepdaughter, Aaden and Leasa; and his grandchild, Amirah.
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