At 2:30 pm on Sunday, April 6th, gifted comedian and character actor John Pinette was found dead in a hotel room in Pittsburgh, PA.
According to TMZ, over the course of the last few years, Pinette had been suffering from liver and heart disease. While no autopsy has been performed as of yet, Pinette’s manager Larry Schapiro released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that a pulmonary embolism was the cause of Pinette’s death. He was 50 years old.
John Pinette was probably best known for his standup comedy. Originally starting his professional life as an accountant, he broke into comedy on the advice of his friends and got his first big break touring with Frank Sinatra in the early 80’s. He was a regular guest on The Tonight Show.
John’s first acting job was in 1990, when he was tapped to do an episode of the NBC sitcom Alf. Pinette played several bit parts in movies like Reckless Kelly and Junior, and then he landed a larger role in two Revenge of the Nerds movies. Pinette was also a returning character in the 90’s sitcom Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
John Pinette’s most famous role was arguably his turn in the 1998 finale episode of Seinfeld. Pinette played Howie, the guy who was mugged in public, while Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer watched, violating the ‘Good Samaritan’ law.
In 1999, Pinette was named Comedian of the Year by the American Comedy Awards.
Pinette’s later film roles included the 2004 version of The Punisher, with Thomas Jane in the titular role, and 2010’s The Last Godfather.
In 2004, John Pinette appeared in an Off-Broadway production of Hairspray. He played the part of Edna Turnblad. Pinette toured with the Hairspray production for a year, eventually landing the same role on Broadway.
Pinette did the live Broadway show until 2006. In his live comedic performance of the same year, titled I’m Starvin’, Pinette revealed that prior to Hairspray, he hadn’t performed in a musical since high school.
Pinette left Hairspray in May of 2006, in order to return to standup comedy. He toured the world for the next several years, and taped several live show for Comedy Central.
In August of 2013, John Pinette canceled a performance in Ontario Canada, and checked himself into rehab for prescription pill addiction. According to a press release, Pinette had undergone surgery earlier in the year, and had developed an unhealthy reliance on his prescribed medication.
According to John Pinette’s Facebook page, he was in the middle of touring and scheduled to perfom next at the Ontario Improv Comedy Club.