Joseph Campanella, Veteran Character Actor, Dies at 93
The Emmy and Tony nominee appeared on such shows as 'The Bold Ones,' 'Mannix' and 'One Day at a Time.'
Joseph Campanella, the handsome, ever-present character actor who appeared on scores of TV shows, including The Bold Ones, Mannix, One Day at a Time and The Colbys, has died, his daughter-in-law confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 93.
Campanella, who received a Tony Award nomination in 1962 for best supporting actor for his performance in A Gift of Time opposite Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland, died Wednesday of natural causes, Sandy Campanella said.
The tall, rangy actor from New York was often recognized — sort of. “Say, Mac, you’re my favorite actor and I know your name, but I can’t think of it,” was a typical greeting, he once observed. When responding to fans who asked his name, Campanella often cracked, “Myrna Loy.”
Campanella received an Emmy Award nom for playing private eye Joe Mannix’s boss on the first season of the 1967-75 CBS series Mannix. His character's name, Lew Wickersham, was a sly reference to then-MCA head Lew Wasserman and Lankershim Boulevard, an entryway to Universal Studios.
However, Intertect, the heartless crime-fighting corporation that Wickersham headed, was written out after the first season as Mannix (Mike Connors) went out on his own, and Campanella’s contract was not renewed.
The actor also appeared in the recurring role of Ed Cooper, the ex-husband and father on CBS' One Day at a Time, and was Barbara Stanwyck’s love interest on the Dynasty ABC spinoff The Colbys. And he portrayed a former boyfriend who resurfaces on a 1973 episode of CBS' The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
In 1987, Campanella joined the cast of the daytime drama Days of Our Lives, portraying a hard-nosed politician, and he appeared on other soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful and The Guiding Light.
He played David Hasselhoff's dad on Baywatch, and his numerous other TV appearances include Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, Ironside, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, The Fall Guy, The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, Star Trek: Voyager and The Practice.
His older brother, pugnacious actor Frank Campanella, died in 2006 at age 87.
Joseph Campanella was born Nov. 21, 1924, in New York City. From a large Sicilian family, he spoke Italian before English. He attended Holy Cross, then served in the Navy during World War II.
He received a B.A. from Manhattan College in English literature and went to grad school at Columbia in speech and drama. During the time, he also was offered a baseball contract by the New York Giants but turned it down.
Campanella worked as a radio sportscaster in Lewiston, Pa., then returned to New York as a broadcaster in the foreign-language unit of the Voice of America. After studies with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, he began his professional acting career as a TV stuntman. That led to roles in many live TV presentations, including Studio One, Kraft Theatre and Philco Playhouse.
During this period, he commuted to California to appear in such series as Chrysler Theatre, Run for Your Life, The Big Valley, The Fugitive, The Doctors and the Nurses, The FBI and Mission: Impossible.
Campanella made his Broadway debut in 1962's short-lived The Captains and the Kings, starring Dana Andrews. This was followed by his performance in Garson Kanin’s Gift of Time and then a stint as Judy Holliday's leading man in Hotspot.
Campanella moved to California in 1969 to star as Brian Darrell in the lawyer segment of Roy Huggins' The Bold Ones, which also starred Burl Ives and James Farentino. He was a longtime resident of Toluca Lake and named honorary sheriff of the neighborhood.
His film appearances included Murder, Inc. (1960), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), the rodent thriller Ben (1972), Child Under a Leaf (1974) and Meteor (1979).
Campanella also did extensive voice work. He was the narrator for National Geographic Specials and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau documentary series in the 1970s and heard on commercials for products ranging from Maybelline to BMW.
He also hosted The New This Is Your Life series.
Campanella married singer-dancer Jill Bartholomew in May 1964 (they met when both were in Hotspot), and they had seven sons.
"Before I met Jill, acting was everything," he once said. "But Denzel Washington, who used to be a neighbor, said it best: 'Acting is making a living; family is life.' I choose to stay with my family."
Campanella's family released the following statement on Thursday: "The passing of our father Joseph Campanella brings deep sorrow to our family and friends but also profound gratitude that he is at peace and appreciation for the man he was and the life he lived. He died peacefully with his loving wife beside him after a full 93 years of life, and we celebrate him as an artist whose professionalism and talent profoundly influenced so many with whom he worked and especially as a father and husband who valued love and family above all. As an actor, coach, benefactor and friend, our father’s positive impact on people of all generations, from his sons to old colleagues and Little League baseball players, is immeasurable. His memory and legacy of kindness and generosity will live on in his wife Jill, their seven sons, four daughters-in-law, eight grandchildren and countless others. "
Hilary Lewis and Ryan Parker contributed to this report.
May 17, 12:50 p.m. This story has been updated with Campanella's family's statement.