'The Untouchables' Star Paul Picerni Dies

He played Agent Lee Hobson from 1960-63 on the ABC gangster series.

Paul Picerni, who played Eliot Ness’ right-hand man on TV’s The Untouchables for three seasons, died Thursday in a hospital in Palmdale, Calif. He was 88.

The news was announced Friday by author Tom Weaver, who helped Picerni pen his 2007 autobiography, Steps to Stardom.

Picerni portrayed Agent Lee Hobson opposite Robert Stack from 1960-63 on ABC’s The Untouchables, the gangster series set in Prohibition-era Chicago. His extensive TV work also included guest spots on such shows as Dragnet, Batman, Starsky & Hutch, Gunsmoke and Kojak, whose star, Telly Savalas, was his best friend for almost three decades.

The Queens, N.Y., native also played the romantic lead in the horror classic House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent Price as part of a seven-year contract Picerni had at Warner Bros.

A bombardier in World War II — he was on the plane that destroyed the bridge made famous in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) — Picerni also appeared in supporting roles in the war films Twelve O’Clock High (1949), Breakthrough (1950), Operation Pacific (1951) and To Hell and Back (1955). He also appeared opposite Errol Flynn in Mara Maru (1952).

Picerni served as the halftime master of ceremonies for Los Angeles Rams home games for decades before the NFL team moved to Anaheim after the 1979 season.