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2017 is still in its earliest days, but that hasn't stopped tragedies from entering everyone's lives, and this week brings the unfortunate news that comedian and actor Tony Rosato, best known for his work on sketch TV series SCTV and Saturday Night Live, has passed away. He was 62 years old.
Tony Rosato died in Toronto on Tuesday evening. The belief is that he had a heart attack, according to what the actor's agent, Jennifer Goldhar, told CBC News. An autopsy was scheduled, but as of press time, no results have been reported yet.
Born in Naples, Italy, Tony Rosato moved to Canada when he was just four years old, and though he'd aimed for the life of a chiropractor upon entering college, he eventually dropped out of school to focus on his improv training at The Second City theater in Toronto. It's at this point that he hit upon his first career hallmark, as Rosato went from sporadic appearances on Second City's critically beloved television entry SCTV to becoming a full-fledged cast member in its final pre-NBC year. He was arguably best known as the drunk and bumbling chef Marcello Sebastiano, the host of his own hazard-filled cooking show. Check out one of those sketches below.
Only sticking around SCTV full-time for the one season, Tony Rosato then made the jump to Saturday Night Live, along with fellow SCTV co-star Robin Duke. (Martin Short is the only other actor who was on the cast of both SCTV and SNL.) Rosato, who did a John Belushi impression on the Canadian sketch show, was responsible for impersonating Captain Kangaroo, Ed Asner and more on NBC. Alas, it was not the best time for him to have signed onto SNL, as this was during Lorne Michaels' infamous hiatus, and Rosato ended up leaving Saturday Night Live after a single season over creative differences with then showrunner Dick Ebersol and contract issues.
While he wasn't on anything that tapped the cultural zeitgeist quite like either of those two series, Tony Rosato was not lacking jobs in the years after. He was a big part of the short-lived Bea Arthur comedy Amanda's and the Canadian police drama Night Heat, but it was with voice work that he made his biggest splash in entertainment. Perhaps most notably, he voiced video game sibling Luigi in animated series The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World. Other regular gigs included The Busy World of Richard Scarry, The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, and Pelswick, along with with dozens of others.
Outside of acting, Tony Rosato made headlines in 2005 when he was arrested for harassment of his wife Leah, and after he spent two years in a maximum security prison, it was then discovered that he suffered from mental health deterioration and he was diagnosed with Capgras syndrome, which causes those afflicted to believe that loved ones have been replaced by imposters. He then spent time in a mental institution and was later released, at which point he returned to acting in a smaller capacity.
We here at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Tony Rosato in their time of mourning.