March 13, 1929
West Hartford, Connecticut, United States
December 8, 2016
Los Angeles, California, United States
Joseph Mascolo was an American actor who was best known for portraying the villain Stefano DiMera on the long-running daytime soap opera "Days of Our Lives" (NBC, 1965- ). Born into a family of Italian immigrants (both his parents hailed from Naples) in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1929, Mascolo first got the acting bug in his early 20s. After a stint in college at the University of Miami, he moved to New York City to study acting under the legendary teacher Stella Adler. It took a few years for Mascolo to feel comfortable as a performer, but by the early 1960s he was landing parts in well-known Broadway plays, such as "Dinner at Eight" (1966 production) and "West Side Story" (1968 production). In the early part of his career Mascolo was primarily a theater actor, but did manage to score a few bit parts on TV shows like the short-lived "Coronet Blue" (CBS, 1967). By the late 60s and early 70s, however, he was beginning to nab film roles as well. He appeared in supporting roles in films like "Hot Spur" (1968), "Shaft's Big Score!" (1972) and "Happy Mother's Day, Love George" (1973). Mascolo worked steadily as a TV actor throughout the remainder of the 70s, appearing on shows such as "Baretta" (ABC, 1975-78) and "The Incredible Hulk" (CBS, 1978-82). Then in 1982 he nabbed his breakout role as Stefano DiMera on "Days of Our Lives." Mascolo initially played the villainous DiMera for three years on the daytime soap, but would periodically reprise the character over the course of the next 30 years. He last played DiMera in 2016, thus appearing as the character in an astounding 1,623 episodes of "Days of Our Lives." Mascolo did play a similarly villainous character named Massimo Marone IV on "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ) from 2001 to 2006, but it was Stefano DiMera that he would always be remembered for. On December 8, 2016, Mascolo died in Santa Clarita, California, after a long fought battle with Alzheimer's. He was 87.