Barbara Bosson, Emmy-nominated actor known for ‘Hill Street Blues’ role, dies at 83

Barbara Bosson poses for a head-and-shoulders portrait in a 3/4 view, slightly smiling, against a sky-blue backdrop.
Barbara Bosson as Fay Furillo in Season 6 of Hill Street Blues.
(Gary Null / NBC Universal via Getty Images )

Actor Barbara Bosson, nominated for multiple Emmy awards for her portrayal of Fay Furillo in the acclaimed 1980s police drama “Hill Street Blues,” has died. She was 83.

According to her son, director and producer Jesse Bochco, Bosson died Saturday “peacefully ... [and] surrounded by her family and loved ones.” No cause of death was given.

Bosson was best known for her “Hill Street Blues” role, for which she was nominated for a supporting drama actress Emmy during each of the first five years of the show’s run. Furillo was introduced as the fussy ex-wife of Daniel J. Travanti’s Capt. Frank Furillo, but over the course of the series she evolved into a victim’s advocate.


She left “Hill Street Blues” early in its sixth season, after a dispute with the show’s production company, MTM Enterprises, over her role and salary. Bosson lamented at the time that the show’s new executive and co-executive producers for Season 6 wanted to undo some of Furillo’s character development. “Hill Street Blues” was co-created by Bosson’s then-husband, the late prolific television writer-producer Steven Bochco, who was let go from the series after its fifth season. Bosson and Bochco were married from 1970 to 1997 and had two children together.

The ambitious police drama seemed doomed even before it hit the NBC airwaves on Jan. 15, 1981.

May 3, 2014

Although she acknowledged that she was cast as Furillo because of her relationship with Bochco, she mentioned in 1985 that “It hurts ... to believe that maybe everything that was good was because of Steven.” In a separate interview that year Bosson also stated that she had initially remained on “Hill Street Blues” after Bochco’s departure “because I wanted my career to be separate from his.”

Bosson made her acting debut in the 1968 film “Bullitt.” Among her other roles include her Emmy-nominated turn as deputy district attorney Miriam Grasso in “Murder One” and Capt. C.Z. Stern in the police comedy “Hooperman.” She also had roles in series such as “Richie Brockelman, Private Eye,” “L.A. Law,” “Cop Rock” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” as well as films including “The Last Starfighter.”

Born in Charleroi, Pa., Bosson is survived by her son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson.