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Subject: ARCHIVE: June 5, 1996 ~Veteran character VITO SCOTTI remembered for dozens and dozens of film/TV roles in over 50 years, from "Gilligan's Island" to Debbie Reynold's "How Sweet It Is!" to "Golden Girls" to "The Godfather", always perfecting ethnic roles, dies at 78. ...
American character actor who played many roles on Broadway, in films, and later on television, primarily from the late 1930s to the mid 1990s. He was known as a man of a thousand faces for his ability to assume so many divergent roles in more than 200 screen appearances in a career spanning 50 years and for his resourceful portrayals of various ethnic types. Born of Italian heritage, he was seen playing everything from a Mexican bandit, to a Russian doctor, to a Japanese sailor, to an Indian travel agent.
Early life and career ...
Vito Giusto Scozzari was born in 1918 in San Francisco, California. His family spent the early 1920s in Naples, Italy, where Scotti developed his gift for farce, modeled after the Commedia dell'arte, a symbolic style of Italian theatre. In 1925, after the Scozzari family had returned to the United States, his mother became a diva in New York City theatre circles. Scotti worked the night club circuit as a stand-up magician and mime. He made his debut on Broadway in Pinocchio, where he played a small role.
Scotti entered movies and television by the late 1940s. He made his film debut, playing an uncredited role as a Mexican youth in Illegal Entry (1949), with Howard Duff and George Brent. By 1953, Scotti replaced J. Carrol Naish as Luigi Basco, an Italian immigrant who ran a Chicago antique store, on the television version of the radio show Life with Luigi. Five years later, he portrayed another "ethnic" character, Rama from India (among other characters) in the live-action segment "Gunga Ram" on the Andy Devine children's show, Andy's Gang, where he also played a foil to the trickster Froggy the Gremlin. ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35odPm7b3w
He was cast as French Duclos in the 1959 episode "Deadly Tintype" of the NBC Western series, The Californians. In 1963, Scotti was cast as the Italian farmer Vincenzo Perugia in the episode "The Tenth Mona Lisa" of the CBS anthology series, General Electric True, hosted by Jack Webb. In the episode set in the year 1911, Perugia steals the Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum in Paris but is apprehended by a French detective when he attempts to unload the painting on an art dealer. He also appeared in television series, such as How to Marry a Millionaire (as Jules in the 1958 episode "Loco and the Gambler"), and in four episodes of The Rifleman. ...
Also appeared in Rescue 8 (1959), State Trooper (1959), Sugarfoot (1959), The Texan (1959), Johnny Staccato (1960), The Twilight Zone (Mr. Bevis), (1960), Target: The Corruptors! (1962), Lassie, Stoney Burke (1963), The Wide Country (1963), Dr. Kildare (1963), Going My Way (1963), Breaking Point (1963), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963), and The Addams Family (1964–1965).
Scotti appeared in two episodes of Bonanza, in Gunsmoke (1965–1970), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965 and 1967),
The Wild Wild West, Ironside, The Monkees, The Flying Nun, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, as one of The Penguin's henchmen
in two episodes of Batman, two episodes of The Bionic Woman (1976).
...He appeared three times on Gilligan's Island in the 1960s: in season one (1964–65) as a Japanese sailor who did not know World War II was over,
and twice as Dr. Boris Balinkoff, a mad scientist, in seasons two and three. He appeared in 5 episodes (1973-1975) of the original Columbo,
as a befuddled maître d’, a snobbish clothing store salesman, a soliciting undertaker, an erudite street bum, and a soybean wholesaler,
and in one episode (1989) as Vito when the series was revived, and and two episodes of The Golden Girls (1988-1989). ...
Scotti was cast as a Mexican bandit in two one-hour episodes of Zorro entitled "El Bandido" and "Adios El Cuchillo" alongside Gilbert Roland, and an Italian restaurant owner in episode 35 of season one of Bewitched. The actor appeared in hundreds of film and television roles, including the train engineer in Von Ryan's Express, Nazorine in The Godfather (1972), as Vittorio in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981), and most notably as the scene-stealing cook in How Sweet It Is! (1968). ...
...In the pivotal scene, Scotti grabs a flustered Debbie Reynolds and plants a kiss on her midriff. He portrayed Colonel Enrico Ferrucci in The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1968) and later appeared in the Academy Award-winning comedy Cactus Flower (1969), as Señor Arturo Sánchez, who unsuccessfully tries to seduce Ingrid Bergman's character. He voiced the Italian Cat in the Walt Disney animated film The Aristocats (1970), and appeared with Lindsay Wagner on her television special, Another Side of Me (1977). His last screen performance was as the manager at Vesuvio's in the criminal comedy Get Shorty (1995). ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh8OdlSXiDo
Scotti died of lung cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California on June 5, 1996.
He was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum, with his beloved first wife Irene who died in 1979. ...
Personal Life ...
In addition to his accomplishments as an actor, Scotti was highly regarded as a chef. He loved cooking, especially the recipes of his beloved mother and grandmother.
Two generations of Hollywood's top names always left his dinner parties raving about the food and wine. Scotti was married for many years to Irene A. Scozzari
until her death at age 54, on April 15, 1979. Vito then married Beverly and they were married until his death.
...He was a dedicated fundraiser for the 'Carmen Fund', set up by the Joaquin Miller High School Parents Guild, to assist the school's special-needs
students in obtaining medical treatment. The fund was named after the Scottis' daughter, one of the first patients to undergo pioneering spinal implant surgery.