Joseph Mascolo, who had several stints as the iconic Stefano DiMera on Days of our Lives since 1982, passed away on December 8 after,battling Alzheimer’s disease for many years, Soap Opera Digest reports.
“It is with great sorrow that I’m sharing the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved member of the Days of our Lives family, Joseph Mascolo,” the executive producer of Days of Our Lives, Ken Corday stated. “The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades and will live on in the memories of his many fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”
Joseph Mascolo was born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, and he was originally on a path to become a classical musician. When his drama professor heard his voice, he urged him to give theater a try, and as a result, Mascolo found his true calling. He appeared in many plays and short films, but it was his role in the TV miniseries, The Gangster Chronicles, that caught the eye of the then Days of Our Lives showrunner, Pat Falken-Smith, who created the iconic role of Stefano just for him.
In 2001, Joseph decided to leave Days of Our Lives. At that time, Bold and the Beautiful showrunner, Bradley Bell, offered him the role of Massimo Marone. Mascolo decided not to renew his contract in 2006, stating a lack of a storyline as his primary reason for leaving. He promptly returned to Days of Our Lives in 2007. The NBC soap opera resurrected Stefano DiMera briefly, only to write him out just a few months later.
Joseph felt “double-crossed” by NBC, who had promised him a storyline, only to learn Stefano would be in a coma. The celebrity gossip magazines began to speculate that Days of our Lives had fired Mascolo, but nothing was ever confirmed. Nearly a year later, Soap Opera Digest reported that Joseph would reprise the role of Stefano again.
Joseph talked at length about his disapproval of how Stefano was often “written into a corner with no way out.” He felt like everything bad that happened in Salem was pinned on his alter ego and felt it was “not fair.”
“Every single thing that went wrong in Salem was Stefano’s fault. Every single thing. He got blamed for everything. When Stefano got blamed for this business with Lexie illness, I got very angry. Stefano and his daughter had an absolutely pure relationship.”
Mascolo briefly left Days of Our Lives in 2012, only to return six weeks later. This time, Joseph was happy with the material he was given and stayed until he retired in January of 2016. Mascolo made guest appearances on the NBC soap opera on March 1, March 2, May 20, June 8, and July 7, 2016.
According to TV Line, Joseph Mascolo died on December 8 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mascolo is survived by his wife, Patricia Schulz-Mascolo, his son, Peter, his step-daughter, Laura, and his sister Marie. He also had five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“Joseph was a big ‘ol bear with a puppy dog heart. I’m so blessed to have had these many years with him. I will miss him every day,” Joseph’s wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo said in a statement to Soap Opera Digest.
Joseph Mascolo’s sudden death shocked the soap opera community and the Days of Our Lives fans. Many fans who commented on social media were in disbelief about his reported death because they weren’t aware that the actor was “that sick.”
There is no information about his funeral services available at this time.
[Featured Image by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Days Of Our lives]