Vito Scotti, Master of a Thousand accents
|Born:||January 26, 1918|
|Birthplace:||san Francisco, California, U.S.A.|
|Also known for:||"How Sweet It Is!"|
|Character played:||The Japanese Sailor in So Sorry, My Island Now and Diogenes, Won't You Please Go Home?, Dr. Boris Balinkoff in The Friendly Physician and Ring Around Gilligan|
Born Vito Giusto Scozzari in January 26, 1918 in San Francisco, California, Vito Scotti grew up during the 1920s in Naples, Italy, where he developed his gift for farce, modeled after the Commedia dell'arte, a symbolic style of the Italian theatre. Returning to the United States in 1925, his mother became a diva in New York City theatre circles while Scotti worked the night club circuit as a stand-up magician and pantomime, making his debut on Broadway in a small role in "Pinocchio." where he played a small role. Scotti had transcended to movies and television by the late 1940s. During his film career, he played a number of Mexican and Italian characters, becoming 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. He was known for his resourceful portrayals of various ethnic types. Though born of Italian heritage, he was seen playing everything from a Mexican bandit, to a Russian doctor to a Japanese sailor. He appeared in numerous television series, including "The Rifleman," "The Twilight Zone," "Dr. Kildare," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Addams Family," "Gunsmoke," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Wild Wild West," 'The Monkees," "The Flying Nun," "Bewitched," "Get Smart," "Hogan's Heroes" (replacing Hans Coreid as an Italian Colonel), "Batman" and "The Bionic Woman." One of his most popular TV roles was as Dr. Boris Balinkoff, a role he created on "Gilligan's Island" in the last two of four appearances he made on the show.
Among his film appearances, he played the train engineer in "Von Ryan's Express,' Nazorine in "The Godfather" and a scene-stealing cook in "How Sweet It Is!" in 1968. In addition to his accomplishments as an actor, he was highly regarded as a chef. Vito loved cooking, especially the recipes of his beloved mother and grandmother. He was a dedicated fundraiser for the Carmen Fund, set up by the Joaquin Miller High School Parents Guild, named after his daughter to assist the special-needs students in obtaining medical treatment. His daughter was one of the first patients to undergo pioneering spinal implant surgery. He also voiced the Italian Cat in the Walt Disney film, "The Aristocats" and appeared with Lindsay Wagner on "Another Side of Me." His last screen performance was as the manager at Vesuvios in "Get Shorty" in 1995. He passed away from lung cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California on June 5, 1996 and was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with his first wife Irene. He is survived by his daughter, Carmen Scozzari, a special education assistant for the LAUSD in the West San Fernando Valley, his son, Ricardo, a brother, Jerry, and his second wife, Beverly.
- So Sorry, My Island Now
- Diogenes, Won't You Please Go Home?
- The Friendly Physician
- Ring Around Gilligan