DEAD: ON THIS DATE
American actor (Bang the Drum Slowly, Moonstruck)
Vincent Gardenia (born Vincenzo Scognamiglio; January 7, 1920 – December 9, 1992) was an Italian-American stage, film, and television actor. He was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, first for Bang the Drum Slowly(1973) and again for Moonstruck (1987). He also portrayed Det. Frank Ochoa in Death Wish (1974) and its 1982 sequel, as well as Mr. Mushnik in the musical film adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors (1986).
DEATH: Around 1 a.m. on December 9, 1992, hours after the final preview performance, Gardenia had returned to his hotel room at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Hotel, after dining with stage director John Tillinger, producer Elliot Martin, and cast members. According to Martin, Gardenia showed no signs of illness, adding, “It was just a jolly evening.” According to authorities, when Gardenia failed to appear the next morning for a radio interview to promote the play’s run, press representative Irene Gandy and cast member Vince Viverito became alarmed. When they arrived at Gardenia’s hotel room, there was no answer. The hotel sent an engineer who opened the door and Gardenia was discovered dead of a heart attack, dressed and clutching the telephone. He was 72.