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Nicholas Georgiade, who played the brawny Eliot Ness ally Enrico “Rico” Rossi on the hard-hitting ABC crime drama The Untouchables, has died. He was 88.
Georgiade died Sunday in Las Vegas, his nephew and namesake Nick Georgiade announced.
The brother of a real-life cop, Georgiade was an inexperienced actor when he appeared in April 1959 as a thug apprehended in a brewery raid on a two-part episode of CBS’ Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse that would serve as the pilot of The Untouchables.
When the show began its four-season series run five months later, Georgiade was now on board as Rossi, a barber who, after a hoodlum kills his manicurist girlfriend amid a shootout, joins the core team of incorruptible Prohibition-era federal agents led by Ness (Robert Stack).
Georgiade appeared on 112 episodes of the Walter Winchell-narrated, fact-based series alongside Stack, Abel Fernandez as Agent William Youngfellow, Paul Picerni as Agent Lee Hobson and Steve London as Agent Jack Rossman.
“I’ve done a lot of research about Chicago and the skullduggery of the [Al] Capone era,” Georgiade noted in a 1960 interview. “Playing this part is a living experience and a new experience every time.”
Born in New York City on March 25, 1933, Georgiade was raised on the Lower East Side. He boxed in high school and the U.S. Army, then enrolled at Syracuse University, where he majored in sociology and psychology and appeared in a production of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo before graduating in 1957.
He studied with famed acting teacher Herbert Berghof, came west and was signed as one of the first members of Lucille Ball’s Desilu Workshop in 1958 after being spotted in a small Hollywood theater portraying Marco in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.
The Untouchables was designed to be a one-off for Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, but after Part 1 attracted a 56.3 share of the audience and Part 2 a 64.8 share, ABC jumped in to make it a series, which would become known for its violence.
Georgiade’s résumé also included such films as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Young Runaways (1968), Stacey (1973), Seven (1979), Mugsy’s Girls (1985), Picasso Trigger (1988) and Indecent Proposal (1993), and TV shows including Whirlybirds, I Spy, Combat!, Run Buddy Run, Mannix, Quincy M.E. and The Equalizer.
He was married to his third wife, Alicia, from 1977 until her death in January 2017 at age 101.
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