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Joseph Mascolo (1929 - 2016)

NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Joseph Mascolo (1929 - 2016)

Joseph Mascolo, an actor who was known best for portraying the villainous Stefano DiMera on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, according to Soap Opera Digest. Mascolo, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was 87.

Mascolo played the iconic “Days of Our Lives” villain on and off from 1982 to 2016. The role had been created especially for Mascolo by head writer Pat Falken Smith, who had seen the actor play a crime boss in the 1981 miniseries “The Gangster Chronicles.” Mascolo brought a charismatic menace to the sinister businessman and soon became one of the all-time great soap opera villains. Over the years, Stefano would die and be resurrected many times.

“The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed,” said Ken Corday, executive producer of “Days of Our Lives,” in a statement to Soap Opera Digest. “His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades and will live on in the memories of his many fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”


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Mascolo was born March 13, 1929, to Italian immigrants in West Hartford, Connecticut. He attended the University of Miami and West Point Academy. He had a passion for music and considered studying orchestral conducting and opera before deciding to pursue an acting career.

He appeared in a number of theater productions in New York and London before making his way into television and would continue to star in regional theater productions even while maintaining a busy soap opera schedule.

Before “Days of Our Lives,” he appeared on “All in the Family,” “Baretta,” and “Kojak.” He had a recurring role as Mayor Pete Santori on the Jack Palance detective series “Bronk.” On the big screen, he appeared in “Shaft’s Big Score” (1972) and “Jaws 2” (1978).

After his initial stint on “Days of Our Lives” came to an end, Mascolo appeared on the soap opera “Santa Barbara” for 12 episodes. He later appeared on “General Hospital,” and in 2001 entered into a multiyear contract to appear on “The Bold and the Beautiful” as Massimo Marone IV.

In 2006, he returned to “Days of Our Lives” as Stefano DiMera for another 10 years. His final episode aired in July 2016. Over the years, he appeared in well over 1,000 episodes.

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