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Vito Scotti

Personal information
Birth dateJanuary 26, 1918
Place of birthSan Francisco, California, U.S.
Date of deathJune 5, 1996(age 78)
Death placeWoodland Hills, California, U.S.

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Vito Scotti (January 26, 1918 June 5, 1996) was a veteran character actor who played many roles, primarily from the late-1940s to the mid-1990s. He was known as a man of a thousand faces, for his ability to assume so many divergent roles in more than 200 screen roles, in a nearly 50 year career. He was known for his resourceful portrayals of various ethnic types. Born of Italian heritage, he was seen playing everything from a Mexican bandit and Russian doctor, to a Japanese sailor.

Though born in San Francisco in 1918, the Scotti family spent Vito's early years in Naples, Italy. By 1925, when the Scotti family returned to the U.S., his mother was a diva in the stage theatre in New York. It was in the Italian theatre, that Scotti developed his gift for farce, which was modeled after the Commedia dell'arte style of the Italian theatre. He worked the night club circuit as a stand-up magician and performed pantomime, finally breaking into movies and television by the early 1950s. His screen debut came in an uncredited role, playing a 'Mexican youth' in Illegal Entry (1949), with Howard Duff and George Brent.

In the next few years, after a dozen screen roles, by 1953, Scotti replaced J. Carroll Naish as Luigi Basco, an Italian Immigrant who ran a Chicago antique store, on the television version of the radio show Life with Luigi. Five years later he portrayed another ethnic character, Rama from India (among other characters) in the live-action segment in "Gunga Ram" on the Andy Devine children's show, Andy's Gang. In the mid-1950s, Scotti played the antagonist against Froggy the Gremlin on Andy's Gang.

Best remembered by audiences in hundreds of film/TV roles, notably as baker Nazorine in The Godfather (1972), and as the frustrated San Francisco landlord Vittorio in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981), and most notably as the scene stealing cook, who surprised an agitated Debbie Reynolds, in How Sweet It Is! (1967). In the pivotal classic comedy scene, Scotti grabs a flustered Reynolds and plants a kiss on her midriff. Gifted in comedy and drama, Scotti had minor roles in movies such as Von Ryan's Express (1965) and Cactus Flower (1969), and also appeared in television series such as State Trooper (1959), How to Marry a Millionaire (as Jules in the 1958 episode "Loco and the Gambler"), Johnny Staccato (1960), The Addams Family (1964 65), Gunsmoke (1965 70), Breaking Point (1963), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963), Columbo, The Monkees, The Flying Nun, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, one of The Penguin's henchmen in two episodes of Batman and 2 episodes of The Bionic Woman (1976). He also played mad scientist Dr. Boris Balinkoff (twice) and a stereotypical Japanese sailor on Gilligan's Island, as well as an Italian restaurant owner in episode 35 of season one of Bewitched. He lent his voice to the Italian Cat in the Walt Disney animated film The Aristocats, and appeared with Lindsay Wagner on her television special, "Another Side of Me" (1977) His last screen performance was as the 'Manager at Vesuvios', in 1995's John Travolta comedy, Get Shorty.

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