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Horacio Paul Picerni (December 1, 1922 – January 12, 2011) was an American actor in film and television, perhaps best known today in the role of Federal Agent Lee Hobson, second-in-command to Robert Stack's Eliot Ness, in the ABC hit television series, The Untouchables.

Paul Picerni
Picerni in 1961
Picerni as Untouchable Lee Hobson (1961)
Horacio Paul Picerni

(1922-12-01)December 1, 1922
DiedJanuary 12, 2011(2011-01-12) (aged 88)
Resting placeSan Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesHoracio Paul Picerni
Alma materLoyola Marymount University
Years active1946–2007
Marie Mason
(m. 1947; his death 2011)


Early yearsEdit

Picerni was born in New York City to an Italian family.[1]Raised in Corona, Queens, he was an Eagle Scout in his youth and adolescence. After high school, Picerni studied drama at Loyola University.[2]

Military serviceEdit

Picerni joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II[1] and served as a B-24 Liberator bombardier in the China-Burma-India Theater. He flew twenty-five combat missions with the 493rd Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Group and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.[3]

He was part of a mission that attacked and destroyed the actual bridge made famous in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). After the Japanese surrendered, Picerni became a Special Services officer in India. Following his discharge, he enrolled at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.[3]


As a young actor returning from the war, Picerni appeared in military pictures: in Twelve O'Clock High (1949) as a bombardier and as Private Edward P. Rojeck in Breakthrough. This led to a Warner Brothers contract and a succession of roles at that studio including a Portuguese Socialist "Red" agitator in 1952's The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima and the hero of the 1953 horror classic House of Wax. After his departure from Warners, he appeared with Audie Murphy in Universal Studio's To Hell and Back.[4]


Regular rolesEdit

Paul Picerni and Peggy McCay in a scene from TV's The Young Marrieds (1964)

After Italian organizations began to complain about the use of Italian gangsters on ABC's, The Untouchables,[5] starring Robert Stack as G-man Eliot Ness, Picerni joined the cast in 1960 as Ness's number-one aide, Lee Hobson, a role that he played for the duration of the series. (He was also seen in the program's pilot, playing Tony Liguri.)[6]:1132 He also portrayed Ed Miller on O'Hara, U.S. Treasury (1971-1972)[6] and was featured as Dan Garrett on The Young Marrieds (1964–66)[6]:1207

Guest appearancesEdit

In 1954, Picerni was cast as the outlaw Rube Burrow in the syndicated western television series Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis. That same year, he had a role in the pilot episode for the 1957-58 NBC detective series, Meet McGraw.[4]

Picerni appeared in two episodes, "Gun Hand" and "Badge to Kill" of the syndicated western series 26 Men (1957–59), true stories of the Arizona Rangers. He also appeared in the episode "Gypsy Boy" of Tales of the Texas Rangers. In 1957, he played a deserter in an episode of the syndicated Boots and Saddles.[4]

Between 1957-60, Picerni was cast three times in different roles, the last as Duke Blaine, on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston.[7]

In 1958, Picerni played a milkman on the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. In 1959, he appeared in an episode of NBC's Northwest Passage adventure series about Major Robert Rogers's exploits during the French and Indian War. He also portrayed a police detective in the episode "The Quemoy Story" of Bruce Gordon's short-lived NBC docudrama about the Cold War, Behind Closed Doors.[8]

Picerni made three guest appearances on Perry Mason during its nine-year run on CBS. In 1958 he played Charles Gallagher in "The Case of the One-Eyed Witness", and defendant Army Sgt. Joseph Dexter in "The Case of the Sardonic Sergeant". In 1963, he played murderer Walter Jefferies in "The Case of the Bouncing Boomerang". In 1964, he appeared in The Fugitive (TV series), in the episode "Search in a Windy City".[4]

In 1967, Paul appeared with his daughter Gina Picerni in the episode "The Chameleon" of the popular show My Three Sons.

Personal lifeEdit

Picerni married former ballet dancer Marie Mason, in 1947. They settled in Tarzana, California to raise their family; they had eight children and ten grandchildren. Two of Picerni's children predeceased him.[3]


His autobiography, Steps to Stardom: My Story, written with the help of Tom Weaver, was published by BearManor Media in 2007.[9]


Picerni died from a heart attack on January 12, 2011 in Palmdale, California.[10] Picerni is interred at the Roman Catholic San Fernando Mission Cemetery.[3]

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ a b Lentz III, Harris M. (2012). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2011. McFarland. p. 266. ISBN 9780786469949. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  2. ^ "Cowpoke Training". Blue Island Sun Standard. Illinois, Blue Island. September 6, 1951. p. 9. Retrieved December 26, 2016 – via  
  3. ^ a b c d "World War II vet, TV and movie actor Paul Picerni, 88, of Tarzana dies". Los Angeles Daily News. January 14, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Paul Picerni on IMDb
  5. ^ Renga, Dana (2011). Mafia Movies: A Reader. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442661745. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc.; ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. pg. 783.
  7. ^ "Colt .45". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  8. ^ "Behind Closed Doors'". Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  9. ^ "PASSINGS: Paul Picerni, Guy Greengard, Romulus Linney". Los Angeles Times. January 18, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  10. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (12 February 2018). "Paul Picerni, Actor in 'Untouchables,' Dies at 88" – via

External linksEdit