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.

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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.

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14 Comments on “Joseph Mascolo Passes Away at Age 87”

  1. Simon Parris Says:

    Sad news indeed. What a legend.
    The Phoenix will not rise from the ashes this time on Days.
    How appropriate that the opera Die Walkure is playing here in Melbourne at the moment. Stefano will be there inspirit to conduct Monday night’s performance.
    Vale Joseph Mascolo.

  2. Fluffysmom Says:

    I cried read the news and again when I read Lauren Koslow’s message.

    Great picture. It’s awesome that you were able to meet him.

    It amazes me that he was able to continue playing Stefano as he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

    I read that he always used his Stefano voice when he was at the studio even backstage.

  3. Denise Says:

    Oh how this saddens me! I loved Joe and Stefano, and always looked forward to seeing him on Days. He brought so much verve to the part! An outlandish character, indeed, but one of he great villains of daytime, and played by Joe with a great deal of heart as well. The character always made me smile (something that doesn’t happen all that much these days), and was always so much FUN.

    • mykleraus Says:

      He always brought a smile to my face, too. I’m sad we’ll never get another classic “It’s good to be back!” out of him. But I’m grateful for all the joy he brought us the past 30-something years!

  4. Jamie Says:

    What a lovely tribute, thank you for sharing. It really is a sad day, although not unexpected, as you stated.

    I’m hoping that the show finds a way to pay tribute to Stefano now that he has passed. I know not many of Salem will mourn him, but now that it appears they will be finding out Stefano was dying, maybe his family will mourn again for their loss.

    • mykleraus Says:

      They did that surprisingly strong “memorial” earlier this year after Stefano’s body was found, with Hope, Caroline, Marlena, John, Roman, Abe, and Kate (I think that’s all) gathered at the Pub and swapping stories. I thought it was a wise way of handling the passing of a character who naturally wasn’t beloved by Salem, though the actor was. I’m sorry we never got a true memorial, even if it was just Andre, Chad, and Theo, though.

  5. Shea Says:

    I think I have been in shock since I saw this news posted yesterday. Of course it isn’t exactly surprising given the fact that he was 87 and we were aware he had health issues but the fact they are reporting he had Alzheimer’s is a shock. I know he had used cue cards or a teleprompter for years but the fact that he had been able to appear on the show at all is amazing. I remember reading a comment from him after he began using the wheelchair where he said the doctor’s didn’t know why his legs weren’t working. That statement seemed odd at the time but actually makes sense if he was battling Alzheimer’s.

    It’s always strange when we lose entertainers who’s art and performances mean something to us. It’s odd how we feel these losses on such a personal level but this one feels even stranger given the evil character he played. The show will truly never be the same.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Yeah, I remember there being a lot of talk about how he’d broken his leg and that’s why he was seated almost entirely for the last 2-3 years. But knowing there was something much bigger going on makes that make more sense, I suppose.

      These performers really become a part of our daily lives in a way that musicians, movie stars, etc., don’t, so I guess it makes sense that their deaths hit us so hard. Stefano has more or less been a daily presence in my life for 20 years (I know he was gone for a chunk of that, but the specter of Stefano was ALWAYS there).

  6. underyourwing Says:

    2016: FUCK YOU.
    he is not suffering anymore. we got all the good outta him and so did his family. how lucky are we? RIP Joseph.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Is 2016 going to leave us anyone?!

      I’m glad he’s at peace, too. Especially for someone so committed to his work and art, losing his faculties that way must’ve been terrifying.

  7. ADW Says:

    It’s really neat such a huge contrast of how a majority of the characters on the show dispise Stefano on screen but, love Joe like family off screen. Since they film 6 months ahead maybe they will do something else as a tribute to Stefano/JM at some point in the spring? Perhaps, air a montage of Stefano’s best moments hey, maybe fans vote on which clips they should show.

    • mykleraus Says:

      He was clearly as beloved by the cast as he was by viewers, which is awesome. Seems like he was genuinely a great man and a willing mentor for the younger performers.

      I’m hoping they do SOMETHING as a tribute. It’s tough because a lot of the characters wouldn’t naturally reflect well upon Stefano, and they already did the “Stefano’s enemies sit around and swap war stories” thing. But they have to address it in some way. I’m betting they edit in a “In memory of…” card in the next week or two.


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