LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —   A beloved daytime actor who played one of soap’s best-ever bad guys has died.

Soap fans knew Joe Mascolo best as the iconic villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of Our Lives” starting in 1982  and off-and-on for decades.

Mascolo was 87.

Stefano was known as “The Phoenix” and he was killed off and brought back so many times even he lost count. He was killed off for the last time this past January.

A statement by “Days” exec producer Ken Corday said Mascolo, “dear friend of the ‘Days’ family,” died on Wednesday. He had been battling Alzheimer’s.

“The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades, and will live on in the memories of his many fans,” Corday wrote.

Fans of “The Bold and the Beautiful” will also remember Mascolo for playing erudite, elegant bad guy Massimo Marone from 2001-2006. On “General Hospital” he played Domino, aka Nicholas Van Buren, from 1989-90.

(credit: Getty Images/NBC)

(credit: Getty Images/NBC)

For a man who excelled at playing cunning vipers and kidnappers, with Italian flair and charm, Mascolo himself was actually a Connecticut native known for charity work. Fans were often shocked to find the Italian accent and operatic flair was something of a put on.

He was on his way to becoming a classical clarinet player before he segued into acting.  Typically cast as a heavy, he was well-known for being one of the nicest guys on any soap set and beloved as a nice guy to his fans. On set the voice was often booming. Off-stage, you’d have to stand close to hear what he was saying. He loved playing bombastic characters and loved being hated by the fans who loved him.

Mascolo was named by Soap Opera Digest as one of daytime’s best villains of all-time.

Mascolo appeared in many movies including “Sharkey’s Machine,” “Shaft’s Big Score,” “Yes, Giorgio” and “Heat.”

In addition to soaps like “Santa Barbara”, his other television appearances included “The Gangster Chronicles,” “Baretta,” “Lou Grant,”  “Kojak,” “All in the Family” and “The Rockford Files.”

He is survived by his wife, Pat Schultz-Mascolo. The two met when she was a publicist at NBC.They were friends for 15 years before going on their first date. They married in 2005.

Mascolo is also survived by a son, a step-daughter, a sister, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Click here for a link to his personal website.


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