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Vincent Andrew Schiavelli (//; November 11, 1948 – December 26, 2005) was an American character actor and food writer noted for his work on stage, screen, and television. Described as an "instantly recognizable sad-faced actor", Schiavelli was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in childhood.
Vincent Andrew Schiavelli
November 11, 1948
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 26, 2005 (aged 57)|
|Education||New York University (MFA)|
|Occupation||Actor, food writer|
Schiavelli gained fame as a character actor, mainly in supporting roles. His better-known roles include Fredrickson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Mr. Vargas in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), the Subway Ghost in Ghost (1990), Organ Grinder in Batman Returns (1992), Chester in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Dr. Kaufman in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and ABC executive Maynard Smith in Man on the Moon (1999).
Schiavelli was born in Brooklyn to a Sicilian-American family, the son of John Schiavelli and Katherine Coco. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn. He studied acting through the theatre program at New York University and began performing on stage in the 1960s.
Schiavelli's first film role occurred in Miloš Forman's 1971 production Taking Off, in which he played a counselor who taught parents of runaway teens to smoke marijuana in order to better understand their children's experiences. Schiavelli's aptitude and distinctive appearance soon provided him with a steady stream of supporting roles, often in Forman's films, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Valmont, and the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon.
He played Mr. Vargas, the biology teacher, in the 1982 comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a role he reprised in the 1986 television spin-off Fast Times. He was cast in a similar role in Better Off Dead in which he played Mr. Kerber, a geometry teacher.
In 1987, he starred alongside Tim Conway in the short film comedy Dorf on Golf, and then Dorf and the First Games of Mount Olympus in 1988. In 1990, he played the Subway Ghost in Ghost and in 1992, he played in Tim Burton's Batman Returns as the "Organ Grinder", one of the Penguin's henchmen. He appeared as another villain in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), as a silent monk in The Frisco Kid (1979), and as John O'Connor, one of the evil Red Lectroids in 1984's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. In 1994 he appeared in the music video for ZZ Top's "Breakaway", alongside Fairuza Balk and in 1997, was named one of America's best character actors by Vanity Fair magazine. He also made several voice appearances in the animated television show Hey Arnold!. In 2002, he played a children's television show host turned heroin addict named Buggy Ding Dong in Death to Smoochy.
His first television role came in 1972 as Peter Panama in The Corner Bar, the first sustained portrayal of a gay character on American television. His other television credits include The Moneychangers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, WKRP in Cincinnati and Taxi as the priest who marries Latka and Simka. He appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Arsenal of Freedom" as a holographic salesman, on Miami Vice as a research scientist who conspires to steal a top-secret prototype weapon from his employer, and in an uncredited role in an episode of Punky Brewster. In 1987 he appeared as Lyle, a gangster, in the MacGyver season 2 episode "Soft Touch". In Highlander: The Series, he played Leo Atkins, a homeless Vietnam War veteran accused of murder in the Season 1 episode "Innocent Man". In The X-Files, he played Lanny, a man with an underdeveloped conjoined twin in the Season 2 episode "Humbug".
Schiavelli died of lung cancer on December 26, 2005, aged 57, at his home in Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian town where his grandfather Andrea Coco was born, and about which he wrote in his 2002 book Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa (ISBN 0-7432-1528-1). Schiavelli was buried at Polizzi Generosa Cemetery, near Palermo, Sicily.
- 1971 Taking Off as Schiavelli
- 1972 The Corner Bar as Peter Panama
- 1974 The Great Gatsby as Thin Man (uncredited)
- 1974 For Pete's Sake as Grocery Clerk
- 1975 The Happy Hooker as Music Guru
- 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as Bruce Frederickson
- 1976 Next Stop, Greenwich Village as Rent Party Guest (uncredited)
- 1976 Angels as "Tex"
- 1977 Another Man, Another Chance as Train Traveler (uncredited)
- 1978 An Unmarried Woman as Man At Party
- 1978 Rescue from Gilligan's Island as Dimitri
- 1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days as Guard
- 1979 The Frisco Kid as Brother Bruno
- 1980 Escape as J.W. White
- 1980 White Mama as Medic
- 1980 The Gong Show Movie as Mario Romani
- 1980 Nightside as Tom Adams
- 1980 Seed of Innocence as Leo
- 1980 The Return as Prospector
- 1981 American Pop as Theatre Owner
- 1981 Comedy Of Horrors as Gregory
- 1981 Chu Chu and the Philly Flash as B.J.
- 1981 The Gangster Chronicles as Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro
- 1982 Night Shift as Carl
- 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High as Mr. Vargas
- 1983 The Selling of Vince D'Angelo as Vince's Right Hand Man
- 1983 Little Shots as Joe "Smokey Joe"
- 1984 Kidco as Phil Porzinski
- 1984 Buckaroo Banzai as John O'Connor
- 1984 Amadeus as Salieri's Valet
- 1984 The Ratings Game as Skip
- 1984 Johnny Dangerously as Roman Moronie's Building Planner (uncredited)
- 1985 Lots of Luck (TV Movie) as "Skinny"
- 1985 Better Off Dead as Mr. Kerber
- 1987 Bride of Boogedy as Lazarus, The Gravedigger
- 1988 Time Out as The Receptionist
- 1989 Cold Feet as Vet
- 1989 Homer and Eddie as Priest
- 1989 Playroom as Roman Hart
- 1989 Valmont as Jean
- 1990 Waiting for the Light as Mullins
- 1990 Mister Frost as Angelo, Desk Clerk
- 1990 Ghost as Subway Ghost
- 1990 Penny Ante: The Motion Picture as Davidson
- 1991 Another You as Dentist
- 1991 Ted & Venus as Publisher
- 1992 Batman Returns as Organ Grinder
- 1992 Miracle Beach as Mystic
- 1993 Painted Desert as Harry
- 1994 The Lurking Fear as Knaggs
- 1994 Cultivating Charlie as Martin
- 1994 Corpse Killer (Game Digital Pictures) as Hellman
- 1995 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up as The Mayor
- 1995 Escape to Witch Mountain as Waldo Fudd
- 1995 A Little Princess as Mr. Barrow
- 1995 Lord of Illusions as Vinovich
- 1995 The Courtyard as Ivan
- 1995 Brother's Destiny as Davinport
- 1996 Two Much as Sommelier
- 1996 Back to Back as Leonardo
- 1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt as Chester
- 1997 The Beautician and the Beast as Jailer
- 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies as Dr. Kaufman
- 1998 Casper Meets Wendy as Dr. Matthew Jeeder, M.D.
- 1998 Love Kills as Emmet
- 1998 Restons groupés as Gary
- 1998 Rusty: A Dog's Tale as Carney Boss
- 1999 Inferno as Mr. Singh
- 1999 American Virgin as Cab Driver
- 1999 Treehouse Hostage as Gardener (uncredited)
- 1999 Man on the Moon as Maynard Smith, ABC Executive
- 1999 The Prince and the Surfer as Baumgarten
- 2000 3 Strikes as Cortino
- 2000 The Pooch and the Pauper as Willy Wishbow
- 2001 American Saint as Charley Grebbini
- 2001 Snow White: The Fairest of Them All as Wednesday (Yellow)
- 2002 Death to Smoochy as Buggy Ding Dong
- 2002 Hey Arnold!: The Movie as Mr. Bailey (voice)
- 2002 Solino as Director Baldi
- 2002 The 4th Tenor as Marcello
- 2003 Ferrari as Mr. Paradise
- 2003 Baggage as Thomas Horelick, The Blind Man
- 2003 Gli Indesiderabili as Frank Frigenti
- 2003 Baadasssss! as Jerry
- 2005 La bambina dalle mani sporche as Silva Roibes
- 2005 Once Upon a Time in Polizzi as Himself
- 2005 Miracle in Palermo! as Federico II
- 2006 Nuovomondo as Marriage Broker, On Board The Ship (Released posthumously)
- 2007 Oliviero Rising as Albino (Released posthumously)
- 2010 The Passport (Short) as Inspector Manuel Silvera (Released posthumously) (final film role)
- 2014 Tanti Beddi Cosi as Himself (Archive footage)
- Hal Erickson (2015). "Vincent Schiavelli". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 9, 2014.
- Tom Jacobs (08 September 1991). [ACTOR SCHIAVELLI DECLARES VICTORY OVER MARFAN'S]. The Chicago Tribune, accessed 27 November 2019
- Inskeep, Steve (December 27, 2005). "Character Actor Vincent Schiavelli Dies". NPR.org. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
- "NMF Mourns the Loss of its Honorary Co-Chair, Vincent Schiavelli" Archived 2013-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, National Marfan Foundation. Retrieved April 10, 2011
- "Character actor Schiavelli dies". News.bbc.co.uk. December 26, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Vincent Schiavelli Filmography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. April 28, 2022.[dead link]
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