Jon Polito 1950-2016

September 5, 2016
Beloved character actor succumbs to cancer.

Actor Jon Polito, best known for his frequent collaborations with the Coen Brothers, died on September 1, following a long battle with multiple myeloma. He was 65.

Polito was a hugely prolific performer on both stage and screen, amassing more than 200 screen credits since making his debut in the 1981 TV miniseries, The Gangster Chronicles. Comfortable with both comedy and drama, he alternated between playing gruff cops and criminals, and lighter, more parodic fare that contrasted his deep voice and tough demeanour with his more playful side.

He first worked with Joel and Ethan Coen on the 1990 gangster classic, Miller’s Crossing, where he played ambitious Italian mob boss, Johnny Caspar. He would go on to appear in Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn’t There.

In 1994 he played the villainous pawn shop owner, Gideon, in the cult comic adaptation, The Crow. In a nice piece of synchronicity, original Crow writer and artist, James O’Barr, had based the character’s appearance on Polito, and was pleased that the actor was available to pay the character he inspired.

No stranger to television, Polito guest starred in a huge range of shows. He was a series regular in the first series of the critically acclaimed police drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, and the unjustly obscure supernatural comedy, The Chronicle, where he played the editor of a tabloid newspaper in an X-Files-style universe where all manner of weird phenomena are true.

Most recently, Polito was seen in Comedy Bang! Bang!, Modern Family, and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.

He is survived by Darryl Armbruster, his partner of many years.

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