‘Orange Is The New Black’ Actor Dead at 56

@bradwilliamhenke via Instagram

Before Brad William Henke was a famous actor, he was a professional football player. He was a defensive lineman for the University of Arizona before getting drafted by the New York Giants in 1989. He later played for the Denver Broncos and even took the field in Super Bowl XXIV.

In 1994, Henke retired from football due to ankle injuries, and that’s when he decided to start acting. His first roles were in commercials, but he ended up with over 100 credits to his name, including his most famous role as prison guard Desi Piscatella on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” In 2017, he won a Screen Actors Guild award for his role on this show in the category outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Other credits include “Chicago Hope,” “Space Jam,” “ER,” “The World Trade Center,” “Dexter,” “Choke,” “CSI: Miami,” “Jobs,” “Manhunt,” “The Stand,” and “Block Party.”

Unfortunately, Henke died yesterday at the age of 56. Sources close to his family told TMZ that Henke died in his sleep. Henke’s agent, Sheree Cohen, confirmed this news to CNN. The sources did not reveal a cause of death.

Henke’s manager, Matt DelPiano, also spoke to TMZ and said, “Brad was an incredibly kind man of joyous energy. 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.”

Besides his football and acting career, Henke also wanted to help other actors who were trying to launch a career in Hollywood. In 2000, he opened an acting studio where he produced showcases and helped his students connect with agents.

According to Cohen, Henke cared a lot about his family. He “visited his mother frequently, loved taking his stepson to soccer games and gymnastics and adored his dog, Ruby.”

Back in May 2021, Henke posted a video on Instagram from the hospital explaining that he “survived a 99% blockage of my arteries. I could’ve had a heart attack any day.” He added, “The rest of my time on this planet is a gift, and I’m going to take advantage of it.” Unfortunately, he only ended up with a about a year and a half more on this planet.

Henke is survived by his mother, his sister, his wife, his stepson, his stepdaughter and his grandchild.