Jon Polito
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Jon Polito

Jon Polito
Jon Polito.jpg
Polito in 1989
Jon Raymond Polito

(1950-12-29)December 29, 1950
Died(2016-09-01)September 1, 2016 (aged 65)
Years active1981-2016
Darryl Armbruster
(m. 2015)
RelativesJack Polito (brother)
AwardsCinequest Film Festival:
Maverick Spirit Event Award
Best Actor in a Short Film

Jon Raymond Polito (December 29, 1950 - September 1, 2016) was an American character actor.[1] In a film and television career spanning 35 years, he amassed over 220 credits.[2] Notable television roles included Detective Steve Crosetti in the first two seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street and as Phil Bartoli on the first season of Crime Story. He also appeared in several films including The Rocketeer, The Crow and Gangster Squad, as well as his work with the Coen brothers. He appeared in five of their films, including Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski. Polito also portrayed legendary "hungry i" nightclub impresario Enrico Banducci in a large supporting role in Tim Burton's 2014 film Big Eyes starring Amy Adams.

Homicide: Life on the Street

Polito was initially reluctant to audition for Homicide as he didn't want to move to Baltimore for the series, having just relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. His agents sent him the script anyway, featuring a dialogue scene between a Polish-American and an Irish-American detective. Polito preferred the Irish detective role, but was told that he could only do the Polish one. After reading for the part Polito added a message on his audition tape saying that if the producers wanted to call him back he would only be interested if he could take the part of the Irish detective. Series co-creators Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana rewrote the character as an Italian named Steve Crosetti and cast him in the role. The Polish detective was also rewritten, becoming Detective Meldrick Lewis, and was played by African-American actor Clark Johnson.[3]

The show was rating poorly and the producers were under pressure from NBC to include a new female character (Megan Russert) in the hope of gaining broader appeal. As a result, they decided to write out Polito's character at the end of Season 2. Fontana assured him that he would be brought back later in the season, but Polito was unhappy and criticized the producers publicly, an action he later regretted.[3] The outburst caused a rift with Fontana[1] and the Crosetti character was killed off early in Season 3, with the explanation that the detective had committed suicide. This further infuriated Polito, who again complained to the media, triggering a public slagging match between him and Fontana. Interviewed about the situation in 2005, Polito expressed regret for his handling of the matter. He noted that he and Fontana subsequently patched up their differences, and as a result the Crosetti character returned to make a farewell appearance as a spirit in Homicide: The Movie.[3][4]

Coen brothers collaboration

Polito was a regular in the Coen brothers movies appearing in five of their films. The Coens had seen Polito in the New York stage adaptation of Death of a Salesman in 1986 playing Howard Wagner. They approached him to play the part of The Dane in Miller's Crossing (1990), but after reading the script he turned them down saying he would only play the Italian gangster Johnny Caspar. The Coens auditioned several other actors but eventually used Polito after they made him read his entire role cold.[5]

He was offered the role of Lou Breeze in their next film Barton Fink (1991), in a role which was written especially for him. Again he turned down the Coens offer saying he wanted to play the part of movie producer Jack Lipnick. Actress Frances McDormand persuaded him to take the role saying it would change his career.[5] He later appeared in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) as an eccentric businessman, The Big Lebowski (1998) as a private detective and finally in 2001 as a flirtatious salesman in The Man Who Wasn't There.[5]


Polito won an Obie Award in 1980 for his theater performances off Broadway and for his lifetime of work in film and television he received the Maverick Spirit Event Award at Cinequest Film Festival in 2005.[6] In 2012, he won the award for "Best Actor in a Short Film" at Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival.[7]

Personal life

Polito was born on December 29, 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John and Delaida "Dee" (née Pompei) Polito. He had an older brother and sister, Rosemary Simpson and Jack Polito, an animator.[8] After acting at the West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys, he studied theater at Villanova University.[8]

Polito was openly gay.[9][10] He married fellow actor Darryl Armbruster on October 16, 2015, fifteen years after they first met.[8]

He died, at age 65, from multiple myeloma on September 1, 2016,[11] at the City of Hope Hospital, where he was being treated.


Genre Year Title Role Notes
TV miniseries 1981 The Gangster Chronicles Tommy 'Three Finger Brown' Lucchese 13 episodes
Film 1981 Gangster Wars Tommy 'Three Finger Brown' Lucchese
Film 1982 The Clairvoyant[12] Detective Sporaco a.k.a. The Killing Hour
TV film 1983 Running Out Joe Poswalsky
Film 1984 C.H.U.D.[12] Newscaster
TV film 1984 A Good Sport Man In Taxi
TV film 1985 Death of a Salesman[12] Howard
Film 1985 Compromising Positions[12] Cop #1
Film 1985 Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins[12] Zack
Film 1986 Dream Lover[12] Dr. James
Film 1986 Highlander[12] Detective Walter Bedsoe
TV film 1986 A Deadly Business[12] Vitola
Film 1986 Fire with Fire[12] Boss
Film 1986 The Princess and the Call Girl Private Detective
TV series 1986-1989 The Equalizer[12] David Pfieffer / Gene Carmack / Carmack / Gianni 4 episodes
TV series 1986-1988 Crime Story[12] Phil Bartoli 16 episodes
Film 1987 Critical Condition[13] Kline
TV series 1987 Ohara Captain Ross 11 episodes
TV film 1988 Alone in the Neon Jungle[12] Brad Stakowski
Film 1988 Homeboy[12] 'Moe Fingers'
TV series 1988 Miami Vice[5] 'El Gato' 2 episodes
TV series 1988 Wiseguy Eddie Van Platt Episode: "Player to Be Named Now"
TV series 1989 The Equalizer[12] David Pfieffer Episode: "Silent Fury"
TV film 1989 Livin' Large Sal
TV film 1989 Memories of Manon Carmack
TV series 1989 Trying Times Agent Caponello Episode: "Death and Taxes"
Film 1990 The Freshman[12] Chuck Greenwald
Film 1990 Miller's Crossing[12] Giovanni Gasparo / Johnny Caspar
Film 1991 Barton Fink[12] Lou 'Breeze'
Film 1991 The Rocketeer[12] Bigelow
TV series 1991 Empty Nest Slocum Episode: "Harry's Got a Gun"
TV series 1991 Tales from the Crypt[12] Nikos Stano Episode: "Deadline"
Film 1992 Leather Jackets[13] Jack 'Fat Jack'
Film 1992 Flodder in Amerika! Larry Rosenbaum
TV series 1992 Hearts Are Wild[12] Leon 'Pepe' Pepperman 3 episodes
TV series 1992-1994 Murder, She Wrote[13] Lieutenant Peter DiMartini 2 episodes
TV series 1993 Dinosaurs Ty Warner (voice) Episode: "Swamp Music"
TV series 1993 Fallen Angels[13] Al Reseck Episode: "I'll Be Waiting"
TV series 1993 The Untouchables Tommy Palumbo Episode: "Railroaded"
Film 1993 The Contenders Pedro Perusia
TV series 1993-1994 Homicide: Life on the Street[12] Detective Steve Crosetti 13 episodes
Film 1994 The Hudsucker Proxy[12] Mr. Bumstead
Film 1994 The Crow[12] Gideon
Film 1994 Blankman[12] Michael 'The Suit' Minelli
TV film 1994 Girls in Prison[12] Boss Johnson
TV film 1994 The Shaggy Dog[12] Detective Al
TV series 1994 Viper Councilman Strand Episode: "Pilot"
TV series 1995 Burke's Law Episode: "Who Killed Cock-a-Doodle Dooley?"
Film 1995 Fluke[12] Boss
Film 1995 Bushwhacked[12] FBI Agent Palmer
TV series 1995 Chicago Hope Detective Bill Ranford Episode: "Life Support"
TV series 1995 High Society Alvin Spalding Episode: "We Ought to Be in Pictures"
Film 1995 The Invaders Whitley, Metro HQ Uncredited
TV series 1995 Mad About You[13] Ralphy Episode: "My Boyfriend's Back!"
TV series 1995 NYPD Blue[13] Paul Biaggi Episode: "One Big Happy Family"
TV series 1995-1996 Dream On Louie 4 episodes
Film 1996 Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco[13][14] Ashcan (voice)
Film 1996 Just Your Luck Nick
TV series 1996-1998 New York Undercover John Dennis 2 episodes
TV series 1996 The Pretender Ben Hansel Episode: "A Virus Among Us"
TV series 1996 Roseanne Mr. Russo Episode: "Millions from Heaven"
TV series 1996 Swift Justice Tom Luddy Episode: "Supernote"
Film 1997 The Corporate Ladder Mr. Deacon
TV series 1997-2000 Early Edition Cliff Mourning / Louie DeFozio 2 episodes
TV series 1997 Fired Up Sam Harris Episode: "Domestic Bliss"
Short film 1997 Inside Out[12] Paparazzi 27 minutes; included in the compilation film Boys Life 3
TV film 1997 Invasion[12] Detective Kemper
Animated TV series 1997 Life with Louie Red Meat (voice) Episode: "Louie's Harrowing Halloween"
TV series 1997 Night Man Al Capone Episode: "That Ol' Gang of Mine"
TV series 1997 Over the Top Mr. Hamstead Episode: "The Bee Story"
Film 1998 Nowhere Land[12] Frank
Film 1998 The Big Lebowski[12] Private Investigator Da Fino
Film 1998 Tale of the Mummy Parsons
Film 1998 Music from Another Room Lorenzo Palmieri
Film 1998 With Friends Like These...[13] Rudy Ptak
TV film 1998 The Defenders: Choice of Evils[12] District Attorney Al Orsini
TV series 1998 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show Marvin 'Marv' Fishland Episode: "Honey, She's Like a Fish Out of Water"
TV series 1998 Jenny Sid Bouchie Episode: "A Girl's Gotta Get It"
TV series 1998 Millennium Eddie Scarpino Giannini Episode: "Omerta"
TV film 1998 Money Play$ Lou Spano
TV series 1998 New York Undercover Rinaldi Episode: "Drop Dead Gorgeous"
TV series 1998 Players Pappas Episode: "Mint Condition"
TV series 1998 Seinfeld[13] Silvio Episode: "The Reverse Peephole"
TV series 1998 Veronica's Closet Mr. Lehman Episode: "Veronica's Dog Day Afternoon"
TV film 1999 The Apartment Complex[12] Dr. Caligari
Film 1999 Angel's Dance[12] Vinnie 'Uncle Vinnie'
Film 1999 Road Kill[12] 'Jelly'
Film 1999 Stuart Little[12] Detective Sherman
Film 1999 Carlo's Wake[12] Uncle Gus
TV series 1999 Good vs. Evil Howard Episode: "Sunday Night Evil"
Video game 1999 Lands of Lore III Dark Army Orc / Elliott The Guard / Viscosa (voices)
TV series 1999 Nash Bridges Roland Margolis Episode: "Truth and Consequences"
Film 1999 The Green Mile D Block Prison Guard Uncredited
Short film 1999 Surgeon General's Warning The Other Guy 8 minutes
Film 2000 After Sex Naldo
Film 2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle[12] Schoentell
Film 2000 Boys Life 3 Paparazzi (segment "Inside Out")
Short TV film 2000 Nature Boy Mort Ruby 29 minutes; directed by Kari Skogland
Film 2000 Flies on Cupid Giorgio Gagantano
Animated TV series 2000 Batman Beyond[14] The Major (voice) Episode: "Betrayal"
TV film 2000 Homicide: The Movie[12] Steve Crosetti
TV series 2000 The Invisible Man Eddie The Mammoth Episode: "Pilot"
TV series 2000 Popular Caesar Croutons Episode: "Hard on the Outside, Soft in the Middle"
TV series 2000 The Pretender Constantin Falzone Episode: "Cold Dick"
Animated film 2000 The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas![14] Virgil (voice) Direct-to-video
Short film 2001 Frank's Last Dance Frank 18 minutes
Film 2001 The Tailor of Panama[12] Ramón Rudd, The Banker
Film 2001 The Shrink Is In[12] Judge Bob
Film 2001 The Man Who Wasn't There[12] Creighton Tolliver
TV series 2001 The Chris Isaak Show Rhonda Parks Episode: "Our Place"
TV series 2001-2002 The Chronicle Donald Stern 22 episodes
TV series 2001 The Drew Carey Show[13] The Baby Voice, 3 episodes
TV series 2001 Gideon's Crossing Lou Peda Episode: "The Race"
Film 2001 Mimic 2[12] Morrie Deaver
Animated TV series 2002 Time Squad Al Capone (voice) Episode: "The Clownfather"
TV series 2002 Becker Leonard Nagle Episode: "Piece Talks"
Film 2002 29 Palms[13] The Security Guard
TV series 2002 The Drew Carey Show Stansfield 3 episodes
TV series 2002 Gilmore Girls Pete / Father In Kirk's Film 2 episodes
TV series 2002 Push, Nevada[12] Silas Bodnick Episode: "The Amount"
TV series 2002 She Spies Edward Malloy Episode: "Ice Man"
TV film 2002 Women vs. Men Desk Sergeant
Film 2002 Black Mask 2: City of Masks King
Film 2003 The Singing Detective[12] Second Hood
Film 2003 View from the Top Roy Roby
Film 2003 The Box Michael Dickerson
TV series 2003 Crossing Jordan Dick Episode: "Wild Card"
TV series 2003 Dragnet[12] Richard Maughm Episode: "The Silver Slayer"
TV film 2003 Life on Parole Ernie
TV series 2003 The Lyon's Den Mr. Carpeggi Episode: "Trick or Treat"
Short film 2003 No Credits, No Peace The Network Executive 6 minutes
TV series 2003-2004 Oliver Beene Mr. Rayfield 2 episodes
TV series 2004 10-8: Officers on Duty Enzo Fontana Episode: "Wild and the Innocent"
TV film 2004 Gone, But Not Forgotten Sam Oberhurst based on the novel by Phillip Margolin
TV series 2004 It's All Relative Leonard Episode: "A Long Day's Journey Into Leonard's"
TV series 2004 Judging Amy District Attorney Gerald Abner 2 episodes
TV series 2004 The Jury Johnny Pappas Episode: "The Boxer"
Film 2004 Charlie the Ox Freddy Boon
Film 2004 The Last Shot[12] Wally Kamin
TV series 2004 Scrubs Mr. Summers Episode: "My Female Trouble"
TV series 2004 My Wife and Kids Minister Episode: "The Wedding"
Animated TV series 2005 Avatar: The Last Airbender Chief Arnook (voice) 2 episodes
Animated TV series 2005 The Buzz on Maggie New Aldrin / New Pupert (voices) Episode: "Those Pesky Roaches"
Film 2005 Short Order[12]
TV series 2005 Desperate Housewives[12] Charles Skouras Episode: "Love Is in the Air"
TV film 2005 Family Plan[12] Gold
TV series 2005-2008 Ghost Whisperer Joe Grimaldi 2 episodes
Film 2005 The Honeymooners[12] Kirby
TV series 2005 Threshold Nicky Frost Episode: "The Order"
TV series 2005 Without a Trace Jimmy 'The Tooth' Fusco Episode: "Lone Star"
Film 2006 The Alibi Jimmy The Photographer a.k.a. Lies & Alibis
TV series 2006 Masters of Horror Montesquino Episode: "Haeckel's Tale"
Film 2006 Cutting Room[13] Sandy
Film 2006 Grilled[12] Leon Waterman
Animated TV series 2006 Handy Manny Joe Bolotero (voice) Episode: "Supremoguy/Tool Talk"
Film 2006 Flags of Our Fathers[12] Borough President
Film 2006 Big Nothing[12] Agent Hymes
Animated film 2006 Happily N'Ever After[12][14] Wolf 1 Voice
Short film 2006 Cleaners 10 minutes
TV series 2007 Medium Vincent DiScala Episode: "Better Off Dead"
Film 2007 Cougar Club[13] Mr. Archibald
Animated TV series 2007-2008 El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera[14] Don Bafi (voice) 2 episodes
Video game 2007 Dead Head Fred Ulysses S. Pitt (voice)
Film 2007 American Gangster[12] Rossi
TV series 2008 Las Vegas The Cleaner Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast"
Film 2008 The Marconi Bros. Lou Burns
TV film 2008 Rock Monster The Colonel
Animated TV series 2008 Chowder[14] Funjl / Guy (voices) Episode: "The Moldy Touch/The Heavy Sleeper"
Film 2008 Bart Got a Room[13] Bob
Short film 2008 Animated American[13] Max Rabbit 15 minutes
TV series 2008 Do Not Disturb R.J. Episode: "Dosing"
TV series 2008 Chocolate News Harvey Silverstein "Episode #1.7"
TV series 2008 Two and a Half Men Mr. Sharipa Episode: "He Smelled the Ham, He Got Excited"
TV series 2008-2009 Raising the Bar Judge Dominick Ventimiglia 10 episodes
TV series 2009 Monk George Gionopolis Episode: "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall"
Film 2009 Super Capers: The Origins of Ed and the Missing Bullion[12] Captain Sludge
Short film 2009 Locker 13[13] Don Dillon 15 minutes
TV film 2009 Citizen Jane Detective Romer
Animated TV series 2009-2010 Glenn Martin, DDS Vito Renzuli (voice) 2 episodes
Film 2010 Stiffs[13] John 'The Prince' Monaco
Film 2010 Burning Palms Ned
Animated short film 2010 DC Showcase: The Spectre[14] Police Captain (voice) Direct-to-video
TV series 2010 The Mentalist Duesterberg Episode: "Red Herring"
TV series 2010 Burning Palms Ned
Film 2010 The Grind HIM
Film 2010 Venus & Vegas[13] Frank
Film 2010 The Last Godfather[13] Don Bonfante
Short film 2010 The Talking Head Mr. Opportunity 19 minutes
TV series 2011 Funny or Die Presents Eddy "Episode #2.1"
segment United States Police Department
Film 2011 Son of Morning Mr. Bordasche
Film 2011 Atlas Shrugged: Part I[13] Orren Boyle
Film 2011 From the Head[13] Vinnie
Animated TV series 2011 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien DN Alien Mizaru / Mizaru (voices) Episode: "Simian Says"
Animated film 2011 Batman: Year One[13][14] Commissioner Loeb (voice) Direct-to-video
TV series 2011 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Gino Reynolds Episode: "Frank's Brother"
Animated TV series 2011 ThunderCats[14] Conquedor (voice) Episode: "Berbils"
Short film 2011 Jonny Boy Jonny 'Jonny Boy' 7 minutes
TV series 2012 Franklin & Bash Louie 'Lucky Louie' Episode: "Jango and Rossi"
Animated TV series 2012 Robot and Monster[14] Sir Cranklin (voice) Episode: "First Impressions"
TV series 2012 Mike & Molly Frankie Moranto Episode: "Thanksgiving Is Canceled"
Short film 2012 Anti-Muse Anti-Muse Directed by John M Goodner
TV series 2012-2013 Bunheads Sal Russano 2 episodes
Film 2013 Gangster Squad[13] Jack Dragna
Video game 2013 Batman: Arkham Origins G.C.P.D. Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb (voice)
Film 2014 Locker 13 Don Dillan (segment "story #1")
TV series 2014 Castle Harold Metzger Episode: "That '70s Show"
Film 2014 Big Eyes[12] Enrico Banducci
TV series 2014-2016 Modern Family Earl Chambers 3 episodes
Animated TV series 2016 American Dad! Dr. Kalgary (voice) Episode: "Roots"
Video game 2016 Batman: Arkham Underworld Carmine Falcone (voice)
TV series 2016 Comedy Bang! Bang! Frank O'Brien Episode: "Tony Hale Wears a Blue Flannel Shirt and Fuchsia Sneakers"
Animated TV series 2016 Ultimate Spider-Man[14] Hammerhead (voice) Episode: "Return to the Spider-Verse" (Part 3), posthumous
Animated TV series 2017 Tangled: The Series[14] Griffin of Pittsford (voice) Episode: "Not in the Mood", posthumous
Film 2018 The Maestro Herbert Englehart final film role; posthumous


  1. ^ a b "R.I.P. Jon Polito, a favorite of the Coen Brothers". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Jon Polito, Actor in Coen Brothers Films, Dies at 65". Variety. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Jon Polito interview". The Groucho Reviews. March 5, 2005. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer (December 2, 1994). "Character's Suicide Has Actor Steaming". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Jon Polito - Random Roles". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2016.
  6. ^ Crane, Pete (2005). "Maverick Spirit Event: Jon Polito: American Dynamo". Cinequest.
  7. ^ "Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival - List of awards 2012". Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Slotnik, Daniel E. (September 2, 2016). "Jon Polito, a Favorite in Coen Brothers Films, Dies at 65". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Name Dropping with Jason Stuart... Jon Polito". September 29, 2010.
  10. ^ "Jon Polito Interview Pt 3". July 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Nicole Bitette (September 2, 2016). "Jon Polito, known for roles in Coen brothers films, dead at 65". Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg "Jon Polito". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Jon Polito Filmography". Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l

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