Richard “Dick” Cusack, Emmy-winning scribe also known for his acting and for being patriarch of the thesping clan — which includes children John, Joan, Susie, Ann and Bill — died Monday June 2 in Evanston, Ill., from pancreatic cancer. He was 77.
Manhattan raised, he served in the Army during WWII, then attended Holy Cross, where the liberal Catholic activist roomed with antiwar activist and future priest Philip Berrigan.
Before turning to his passion of playwrighting, he was an ad exec for 17 years with McCann-Erickson, during which he won Clios. In 1966, he became creative director at Post, Keyes and Gardner. In 1970, he founded Cusack Prods., making commercials and docs. One year later he won an Emmy for writing the 1971 abortion doc “The Committee.” Plays he wrote include “Punto,” “The Last Word of the Bluebird” and “The Night They Shot Harry Lindsey” (aka “The Night They Shot Harry Lindsey With a 150mm Howitzer and Blamed It on the Zebras.”)
An accidental thesp, he was asked by Byrne Piven to play a bell captain in the play “The Man in 605.” He went on to various small roles in 20 films as well as TV shows.
Features and telepics include “My Bodyguard” (with daughter Joan), “The Fugitive,” “Return to Me,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck,” “High Fidelity” “Eight Men Out” and “Class,” the last three with son John.
He spearheaded, wrote and appeared in the 1999 HBO film “The Jack Bull,” which son John starred in.
Active with the North Suburban Peace Initiative, he received a kudo from the Evanston Arts Council, which he had previously chaired. Through that org, he turned the Noyes School into the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, which includes the Piven Theater Workshop.
Besides his children, he is survived by his wife of 43 years, Nancy, and two grandchildren.
Services will be held noon Thursday June 5 in Sheil Catholic Center, 2110 N. Sheridan Rd., Evanston.
Donations can be made to North Suburban Peace Initiative, 2214 Ridge Avenue E., Evanston, IL 60201, (847) 475-1174 or the Jonah House, 1301 Moreland Ave., Baltimore MD 21216, (410) 233-6238.