Actor Joe De Santis

Joseph Vito Marcello De Santis (June 15, 1909 – August 30, 1989) was an American radio, television, movie and theatrical actor and sculptor.


Joe De Santis was born Joseph Vito Marcello De Santis to Italian immigrant parents in New York City. His father, Pasquale De Santis, was a tailor from San Pietro Apostolo in Catanzaro, Italy; his mother, Maria Paoli, emigrated from Gioviano in the province of Lucca in Tuscany and worked in a paper flower factory. He worked his way through New York University studying sculpture and drama, his first performances being in Italian.

In 1931, De Santis debuted as a broadcaster on an Italian-language radio station.

After obtaining a part in a play at Hunter College, he secured work as an actor for three seasons with the Walter Hampden Repertory Company, which marked the beginning of his performances in the English language.[citation needed] In the 1930s, when professional acting opportunities became scarce, he worked as an instructor with the Works Progress Administration.

In the era of old-time radio, he was heard on Pepper Young’s Family, Mr. District Attorney, The March of Time, Gang Busters, and The Kate Smith Show. One of his most important contributions to the industry was his narration of Norman Corwin’s On a Note of Triumph, broadcast nationwide at the conclusion of World War II.

In 1963 De Santis appeared as General Rodello on The Virginian in the episode titled “The Mountain of the Sun.”[citation needed]

On May 17, 1985, De Santis was inducted into the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Diamond Circle. During his early years he also did numerous Italian-language broadcasts. He made several contributions to “Remember Radio”, a column in one of the trade publications.

With the advent of television, De Santis became known as a skilled character actor who could play convincing dialect characters, mugs, suave heavies and emotional leads. He was active in such early television series as Playhouse 90, Studio One, Sheriff of Cochise, and he appeared regularly on the programs of Red Buttons, Martha Raye and Sid Caesar. In addition to many single performances on other series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Joe had a recurring presence in such shows as The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible, and in the westerns such as Sugarfoot, Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, Sara, and Bonanza. De Santis made three guest appearances on Perry Mason; in two of the episodes he played the murder victim: George Castle in the 1958 episode, “The Case of the Long-Legged Models”, and Melvin Slater in the 1959 episode, “The Case of the Borrowed Brunette”. He was also cast as Louie Parker in the 1965 episode, “The Case of the Deadly Debt”.

In 1960, De Santis was cast as Juan Cortilla, a Mexican bandit, in the episode “Chicota Landing” of the NBC western series, Riverboat.[citation needed]

De Santis played in numerous films; the high point of his career came in 1962 with A Cold Wind in August. He was also featured in I Want to Live! and The Brotherhood. De Santis was an active member of the Players’ Club in New York City, and the Masquers’ Club in Los Angeles, California.

De Santis retired to Provo, Utah in 1978 to be close to family, and resided there until his death in 1989. Along with sculpting, he contributed regularly to the activities of the Provo Eldred Center. He was a heavy smoker for much of his life and suffered from chronic bronchitis and borderline emphysema;[citation needed] he died in 1989 at the age of 80 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In the liner notes to Frank Zappa’s first album, Freak Out, one finds “These People Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What it is. Please Do Not Hold it Against them.” De Santis’ name is listed along with many others. An explanation for this can be found in an interview with Carl Franzoni, a vocalist for whom the first song on that album, Hungry Freaks, Daddy was written. Franzoni and Zappa were acquainted with Vito Paulekas, a sculptor and dancer and the L.A. freak scene guru in the early sixties. Apparently certain movie stars, De Santis included, would come to Vito’s studio to sculpt, and somehow something about Joe stuck in Zappa’s mind.

Personal life

In 1935, De Santis married Miriam Moss, an actress; they had one son David and later divorced. In 1949, he married Margaret Draper, also an actress, whom he met while both were playing parts on Pepper Young’s Family. They had one son Christopher by this marriage and divorced in 1956, at which time De Santis moved to California to pursue his work in television and films. In 1959, he married Wanda Slye who preceded him in death in 1977.


De Santis studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and was apprenticed to Onorio Ruotolo at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, 1927-29. From 1936 to 1940 he taught sculpting at the Henry Street Settlement and the YMHA at 92nd St. in New York City.

According to an article in the New York Post of June 2, 1937, he would gather materials from construction sites – wood, limestone, and whatever he could find – for his pieces and display them at Washington Square.

He was commissioned by the editors of Flying Magazine to create a bust of aviatrix Joan Merriam Smith which was presented to the National Air and Space Museum in 1972.



Year Title Role Notes
1949 Slattery’s Hurricane Mr. Gregory
1951 The Man with a Cloak Joseph Martin
1952 Deadline – U.S.A. Herman Schmidt
1956 The Last Hunt Ed Black
1956 Tension at Table Rock Ed Burrows
1956 Full of Life Father Gondolfo
1957 Dino Mr. Minetta
1957 Jeanne Eagels Frank Satori
1957 The Unholy Wife Gino Verdugo
1958 The Case Against Brooklyn Gus Polumbo Uncredited
1958 Buchanan Rides Alone Esteban Gomez
1958 I Want to Live! Al Matthews
1959 Al Capone Big Jim Colosimo
1959 Cry Tough Juan Antonio Hernando Cortez
1959 The Flying Fontaines Roberto Rias
1961 A Cold Wind in August Papa Pellegrino
1961 The George Raft Story Frankie Donatella
1966 Madame X Carter
1966 And Now Miguel Padre de Chavez
1966 An American Dream Eddie Ganucci
1966 Beau Geste Maj. Beaujolais
1966 The Professionals Ortega
1967 The Venetian Affair Jan Aarvan
1968 Blue Carlos
1968 Chubasco Benito Tosoni
1968 The Brotherhood Pietro Rizzi
1973 Little Cigars Travers
1987 How Rare a Possession Leaders, Council of Peace


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Photocrime
1949 The Big Story John Taine Episode: “Andrew J. Viglietta of the Long Island Star Journal”
1950 The Trap Host and narrator
1950 Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Commander Elblas 2 episodes
1951 Casey, Crime Photographer Episode: “The Clean-Up”
1952 Lights Out Episode: “Man in the Dark”
1952–1955 Lux Video Theatre Sylvio / Anton Maxuranic / Wylie 3 episodes
1953 Goodyear Television Playhouse 2 episodes
1953 Four Star Playhouse Episode: “The Hard Way”
1953–1956 The Philco Television Playhouse Director 2 episodes
1954 Inner Sanctum Rick / Dan / Ben Compos 3 episodes
1954 The Motorola Television Hour Turiddu Episode: “Love Song”
1955 Casablanca Episode: “Family Dispute”
1955–1957 Matinee Theatre 2 episodes
1955–1960 The United States Steel Hour Mr. Albright / Ramirez / Papa 4 episodes
1955–1968 Gunsmoke Hoxy / Sheriff Mark Handlin / Gunter / Mr. Hawtree 4 episodes
1956 Crusader Inspector Pete Ferranti Episode: “Big Sneak”
1956 Robert Montgomery Presents Episode: “Don’t Do Me Any Favors”
1957 Fireside Theatre Capt. Garcia Episode: “Harbor Patrol”
1957 Sheriff of Cochise Jack Sanford / Nick 2 episodes
1957 The O. Henry Playhouse Episode: “Only a Horse Would Know”
1957 The Alcoa Hour Dr. Hartman Episode: “Hostages to Fortune”
1957 Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre Balam Episode: “The Deserters”
1957 Meet McGraw Arnie Francisco Episode: “The Fighter”
1957 General Electric Theater Joe Breed Episode: “Thousand Dollar Gun”
1957 The Walter Winchell File Frankie Genetti Episode: “The Fallen Idol”
1957 Casey Jones Clyde Buchanan Episode: “Run to Deadwood”
1957–1958 Playhouse 90 Charles Fischetti / Dr. Max Bronstein / Maurice Remy 3 episodes
1957–1959 Tales of Wells Fargo Thomas / Garrett 2 episodes
1958 Have Gun – Will Travel Clint Bryant Episode: “The Bostonian”
1958 The Court of Last Resort Juan Morales Episode: “The Mary Morales Case”
1958 Schlitz Playhouse Episode: “Lottery for Revenge”
1958 Tombstone Territory Commandante Nexor Episode: “Legacy of Death”
1958 Wanted Dead or Alive Luis Portilla Episode: “Dead End”
1958–1960 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Felix Lo Scalzo / Father Izgievdio 2 episodes
1958–1965 Perry Mason Louie Parker / Melvin Slater / George Castle 3 episodes
1959 The Third Man Paolo Episode: “Listen for the Sound of a Witch”
1959 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Police Lieutenant Episode: “A Night with the Boys”
1959 Doctor Mike Alex Bartos Television film
1959 Adventure Showcase Mac Ustich Episode: “Johnny Nighthawk”
1959 The Adventures of Hiram Holliday Acosta Episode: “Pasto Duro”
1959 Philip Marlowe Roentgen Episode: “Child of Virtue”
1959 The Man from Blackhawk Fidelio Pirozzi Episode: “Vendetta for the Lovelorn”
1959–1960 Rawhide Ellis Crowley / Jed Bates / Justice Cardin 3 episodes
1959–1960 Sugarfoot Gherardo Fregoso / Gen. Carlos Jose Perez 2 episodes
1959–1960 Cheyenne Manuel Loza / Manuel Lagrone 2 episodes
1959–1963 77 Sunset Strip Senor Valdez / Mr. Costa / Hidalgo / General Gutierrez / Milton Garvey / Mustafa Caleb / Col. José Vargas 8 episodes
1959–1963 The Untouchables Louis Latito / Janos ‘Jake’ Szabo / Victor Salazar / Daniel Oates 5 episodes
1960 Law of the Plainsman Cooper Episode: “The Rawhiders”
1960 Tightrope! Leo Madden Episode: “Gangster’s Daughter”
1960 Alcoa Theatre Mac Ustich Episode: “Forced Landing”
1960 Sea Hunt Dr. Ruiz Episode: “The Cellini Vase”
1960 Bourbon Street Beat Major Hernandez Episode: “Green Hell”
1960 The Chevy Mystery Show Paul Otis Episode: “Femme Fatale”
1960 Riverboat Juan Cortilla Episode: “Chicota Landing”
1960 Unsolved Mr. Baroni Television film
1960 This Man Dawson Episode: “Sweet Charity”
1960–1961 Surfside 6 Emilio Mendez / Silva 2 episodes
1961 Maverick Don Manuel Lozaro Episode: “A State of Siege”
1961 The Roaring 20’s Nick Zarvis Episode: “Dance Marathon”
1961 The Case of the Dangerous Robin Episode: “The Strad”
1961 The Barbara Stanwyck Show Paul Fielding Episode: “Size 10”
1961 Hong Kong Hernandez Episode: “The Innocent Exile”
1961 The Tall Man Waco Episode: “Death or Taxes”
1961 The Detectives Vince Episode: “The Legend of Jim Riva”
1961 Naked City Matt Valentine Episode: “The Corpse Ran Down Mulberry Street”
1961–1970 Bonanza Padre Xavier / Dr. Isaac Dawson / Samuel Michelson / Morehouse 4 episodes
1962 Thriller Col. Sangriento Episode: “The Bride Who Died Twice”
1962 Route 66 Rudy Steiner Episode: “A Feat of Strength”
1962 Checkmate Joe Angelo Episode: “Down the Gardenia Path”
1962 Kraft Mystery Theatre Felix La Scalzo Episode: “Circle of Evil”
1962 The Eleventh Hour Mr. Radwin Episode: “Eat Little Fishie Eat”
1962–1963 Sam Benedict Judge Anthony Parrelli / Judge Murvill 3 episodes
1963 Hawaiian Eye Akao Episode: “Maybe Menehunes”
1963 The Dick Powell Show Joe Austin Episode: “Apples Don’t Fall Far”
1963 Car 54, Where Are You? Billson Episode: “The Loves of Sylvia Schnauser”
1963 The Defenders The District Attorney Episode: “Judgment Eve”
1963 The Outer Limits Colonel William Campbell Episode: “The Human Factor”
1963 Arrest and Trial Mr. Ware Episode: “The Quality of Justice”
1963 Ripcord Louis Santee Episode: “Flight to Terror”
1963–1965 The Virginian Juan Pablo / Gen. Rodello 2 episodes
1963–1965 The Doctors and the Nurses Mr. Cestano / Robertson 2 episodes
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Albert Ortega Episode: “A Wind of Hurricane Force”
1964 Temple Houston Episode: “A Slight Case of Larceny”
1964 East Side/West Side Ralph Morelli Episode: “Don’t Grow Old”
1964 The Great Adventure General Vallejo Episode: “The Pathfinder”
1964 Wagon Train Samuel Moses Episode: “The Last Circle Up”
1964 Mr. Novak Dr. Wolifski Episode: “Moonlighting”
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Mr. Aviles Episode: “That He Should Weep for Her”
1964 The Fugitive Vardez Episode: “The Cage”
1964–1966 Dr. Kildare Bruno Rossi / Enrico Conti 3 episodes
1965 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Miklos Episode: “The Last Battle”
1965 Daniel Boone Jigossassee Episode: “The Prophet”
1965 Branded Chief Looking Glass Episode: “The Test”
1965 Ben Casey Charlie Hoffman Episode: “Minus That Rusty Old Hacksaw”
1965 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Jake Martinez Episode: “Night Fever”
1965 The Lucy Show Headwaiter Episode: “Lucy and the Golden Greek”
1965 The Munsters Lou Episode: “Herman Munster, Shutterbug”
1966 Laredo Don Miguel Episode: “The Would-Be Gentleman of Laredo”
1966 Twelve O’Clock High ‘Elmer’ Delvecchio Episode: “Face of a Shadow”
1966 The Man Who Never Was Davos Episode: “In Memory of Davos”
1967 The Road West Octaviano Episode: “A War for the Gravediggers”
1967 Run for Your Life Eduardo Alonzo Episode: “The Naked Half-Truth”
1967–1970 Mission: Impossible Jorge Cabal / Maj. Marak / Vito Scalisi 3 episodes
1968 Lancer Doc Hildenbrand Episode: “The Escape”
1968–1971 The Name of the Game Don Ignazio / Ricci 2 episodes
1969 The Doris Day Show Frank Gorian Episode: “The Date”
1969 Hawaii Five-O Professor Akbar Savang Episode: “Leopard on the Rock”
1970 The Bold Ones: The Lawyers Don Passetto Episode: “Trial of a Mafioso”
1970 The Flying Nun Antonio Novello Episode: “The Somnaviatrix”
1970 The High Chaparral Colonel Ruiz Episode: “A Good Sound Profit”
1970 Dan August Jeff Zachary Episode: “The Union Forever”
1971 Bearcats! Col. Delgado Episode: “Powderkeg”
1971 Sarge Vito Episode: “Ring Out, Ring It”
1972 Mannix Sam Maturian Episode: “Harvest of Death”
1973 Honor Thy Father Joe Magliocco Television film
1973 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Carlo Episode: “Preston al Naturale”
1973 Toma Episode: “Frame-Up”
1974 It’s Good to Be Alive Roy Campanella’s Father Television film
1975 Cannon Benito Conforte Episode: “Nightmare”
1975 Katherine Father Echeverra Television film
1976 Sara Vittori Episode: “Man from Leadville”
1977 Contract on Cherry Street Vincenzo Seruto Television film
1985 Suburban Beat Sylvester Linus Television film

External Links

Actor Joe De Santis – Wikipedia

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