Joseph Mascolo Passes Away at Age 87
I was not ready for this. I had a feeling it was coming, but I was not at all ready, as evidenced by the fact that as soon as my friend texted me the news, I had to leave the restaurant where I was picking up lunch because I started crying.
Joseph Mascolo, a.k.a. Stefano DiMera himself, passed away yesterday, December 8th. From TV Line:
Mascolo passed away Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the show said in a statement on Friday. He joined the Days cast in 1982 and made crime lord/business tycoon Stefano DiMera into one of the most hated (and most loved) bad guys in soap-opera history.
Mascolo left and returned to the role of Stefano several times over the years, even joining CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful for an extended stint from 2001 to 2006. But he always came back to Days, most recently for the character’s death earlier this year. He also made appearances on TV shows like All in the Family and Lou Grant, and in films like Jaws 2 and Sharky’s Machine.
I feel much the same way I felt when Frances Reid (Alice Horton) died. Maybe it made more sense in Reid’s case, because she played a loving grandmother and the moral center of the show, but Joe Mascolo was every bit as much a staple of Days of Our Lives. He might have played a villain, but he brought such an energy and excitement to the show, and it was clear that the cast respected him in the same way they did Reid, Macdonald Carey, and the like. Stefano was so over-the-top, and Mascolo’s performance took viewers away to another world in which truly anything was possible — and yet he played so much of the material with a knowing smirk. Without his Stefano, the resurgence that Days experienced in the 1990s might not have been possible at all.
My friend Ira and I had the honor of meeting Mascolo last year at the 50th anniversary party. He could not have been kinder or more gracious, even though it was odd to hear him speak without the trademark Stefano accent! And it still amazes me that, despite battling Alzheimer’s, he continued to appear onscreen and embody a character as distinctive and powerful as Stefano for so long.
Goodbye to a true legend. Rest well, sir, and thank you for the many, many years of joy.