Gaunt, wavy-haired Sicilian-American character actor Joseph Campanella seemed to pop up in just about every second TV series and telemovie of the 1960s and 70s. A tireless veteran of stage and screen, he remained very much in demand well into his eighties. His older brother Frank was also an actor. The son of a musician, Campanella began his flirtation with show biz as a teenage sports announcer for a small Pennsylvania radio station. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War, where, at 18, he commanded a landing craft. Campanella initially studied architecture, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and studied for a Master’s Degree in speech and drama at Columbia University. His stage career began at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1954. He subsequently relocated from New York to Hollywood. Beginning with anthology television in 1952, he amassed numerous guest credits and even had a recurring role as Lew Wickersham (the suave, scientifically-minded head of the Intertect detective agency) in Mannix (1967), for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. For the better part of his career, Campanella was cast as priests (a standout role was that of Father Corelli in The Invaders (1967) episode “Storm”), police officers or doctors. He had a knack for playing characters of a volatile or tortured disposition. Campanella appeared on many daytime soap operas, including a lengthy spell on The Bold and the Beautiful (1987) and the short-lived Dynasty spin-off The Colbys (1985). As narrator, he provided the voice for National Geographic specials (for each episode some eight hours of voice-over were taped, though only fifty minutes were actually used), as well as doing commercials for BMW and the National Automotive Parts Association. On Broadway his roles have included “Captain and the Kings,” “Hot Spot,” “Born Yesterday,” and “The Caine Mutiny”.
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