Beloved character actor Jon Polito, best known for his work with the Coen Brothers and on the hit NBC series Homicide: Life On the Street, passed away this morning at the age of 65. He died at City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles from cancer complications. The actor was diagnosed with multiple myeloma six years ago, a disease that affects bone marrow plasma cells.
Deadline reports that the actor's family confirmed his passing on Friday. Jon Polito was born December 29, 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He attended Villanova University on a drama scholarship before starting his acting career on and off Broadway in New York. He won an OBIE Award for five different performances during the off-Broadway season in 1979-1980, before transitioning into film and TV work in 1981 with a role in The Gangster Chronicles.
Jon Polito first started working with the Coen Brothers in 1990's Millers Crossing, followed by Barton Fink the next year. He also starred in the filmmakers' The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn't There. He was also an original cast member of the hit NBC series Homicide: Life On the Street, starring in the first season before being written off. After a public confrontation with the producers, he was written out permanently in the show's third season, with the character committing suicide, leading to one of the show's most memorable episodes as the detectives learn of his death. Here's what director John McNaughton, who worked with the actor on Homicide: Life On the Street and Masters of Horror, had to say in a statement on Facebook.
"Very sad to learn that my dear friend and collaborator, Jon Polito has passed away. John is probably best known for his work in Coen Brothers films, notably Barton Fink, Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski. Jon and I worked together in TV starting with episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, some pilots and Masters of Horror. He appeared in over 100 films, countless TV episodes and on Broadway. Jon was a born actor and will be deeply missed by his legion of friends, fans, family and of course his long time partner, Darryl Armbruster to whom I send my condolences. R.I.P. old pal - JM."
Aside from his work with the Coen Brothers and on Homicide, the actor most recently starred in Gangster Squad and Big Eyes on the big screen. Jon Polito also provided the voice of Carmine Falcone in the video game Batman: Arkham Underworld and guest starred on ABC's hit sitcom Modern Family as Earl Chambers, the professional nemesis of Ed O'Neil's character Jay Pritchett. His final film The Maestro is currently in production, which also stars Sarah Clarke and Xander Berkeley.