Canadian actor Tony Rosato, a veteran of sketch-comedy shows Saturday Night Live and SCTV, has died at the age of 62.
Rosato’s death was confirmed by his former agent, Larry Goldhar.
He said an autopsy was being done, but it was suspected that Rosato died from an apparent heart attack.
The Italian-born comic actor joined Martin Short and Robin Duke as the only three performers to have been cast members of both Saturday Night Live and SCTV, the classic homegrown comedy show that was spun out of Second City shortly after SNL launched in the mid-1970s.
Tony Rosato was a sweet, funny man and he will be missed. RIP.
One of his most memorable SCTV characters was Marcello, a clumsy TV chef whose “Cooking with Marcello” lessons always ended up in a kitchen disaster.
Rosato made his debut on SNL in the sixth season, the sketch show’s tumultuous first year after Canadian Lorne Michaels left the show as producer, and became a regular in the seventh season, appearing in sketches alongside the likes of Duke, Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo.
Rosato was a series regular on Night Heat between 1985 and 1989, and made appearances on other TV series and productions such as Due South, Street Legal, L.A. Law, Lonesome Dove and RoboCop.
He was also the voice of Luigi in a pair of Super Marios Bros. TV series.
“Aside from one of the most talented people I ever met in my life, he’s probably the gentlest person I think I ever met,” Goldhar said.
“He broke his butt every audition, and he got the jobs, but he would come back to you all the time and thank you for setting it up.”
#RIP Tony Rosato. Thanks for the laughs.
Legal, mental health issues later in life
Rosato ran into legal trouble in later years.
In 2005, he was charged with criminally harassing his wife as he struggled with mental illness. He spent two years in a Napanee, Ont., maximum security prison awaiting trial before he was diagnosed with Capgras syndrome, a condition that caused him to believe his wife and young daughter had been replaced by impostors.
A judge found him guilty but set aside the conviction and ordered him committed to a mental institution. In all, Rosato spent nearly four years in custody.
“There’s no question that it had a big impact,” Goldhar said.
“He had been a creative, dynamite force prior to that…. He was still gifted and creative, but he didn’t have the spark anymore. I think the medication took it away from him.”
Rosato stayed active in the entertainment industry, playing roles in commercials and a variety of Canadian independent films.
Funeral details have not yet been revealed.
We were deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Tony Rosato, our beloved friend and colleague. pic.twitter.com/RWP2QNnwPU