Days of Our Lives fans have been dealt a crushing blow this week. Eighty-seven-year-old Joseph Mascolo has passed away following a devastating Alzheimer’s battle. Mascolo is best known for his role as Days of Our Lives super-villain Stefano DiMera. The NBC network, which airs the daytime soap opera, made the tragic announcement on Friday.
As CNN reports, Joseph Mascolo of Days of Our Lives fame (or infamy) died on December 7, two days before the network’s official announcement.
Mascolo became part of the Days of Our Lives cast decades ago, way back in 1982. He was a familiar face on the show, but not a consistent one. His character was famous for dying off and returning from the ashes, earning him the nickname “The Phoenix.” Over the course of his on-again, off-again stint on the daytime drama, Joseph Mascolo returned from the perceived grave over and over again, always as the bad guy.
His recurring role on Days of Our Lives earned Mascolo three separate Soap Opera Digest “Outstanding Villain” awards. The role of Stefano on Days of Our Lives was far from the only role Mascolo played throughout his decades-long career, but it was definitely his most notable.
Following the star’s death, his wife Patricia Schultz-Mascolo spoke to the media, describing her relationship with her husband, and letting the world know that he wasn’t really the villain that he portrayed on the small screen.
“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.”
While fans of Days of Our Lives have been eagerly anticipating Joseph Mascolo’s potential return to the series (he last had a part on the hugely popular soap in January), the star let it slip earlier this year that he likely wouldn’t be making a return. Back in January, Mascolo told Days of OurLives fans (and the world) that “The Phoenix” would likely never again rise from the ashes.
“Last spring, I had a small stroke. During my rehab, I thought this would be a good time for Stefano to leave. The producers visited me and we worked out a tentative plan, and the writers beefed up the storyline to what you see on TV.”
@nbcdays so sad to hear! He was iconic. He will always be the Phoenix.— Michelle Yu (@michelleyutv) December 9, 2016
@nbcdays So sad to hear of the Passing of Joe aka Stefano a bad guy everyone loved I know I did. And everyone at Days did to R.I.P.— Kathy Marion Garber (@kathymarion51) December 10, 2016
The last time he appeared on the show, Mascolo was shot to death (as Stefano, of course); it will go down in history as his character’s final and forever death.
Well before Joseph Mascolo ever got his start as the nefarious Stefano, the multi-talented entertainer had no sights set on acting. Rather, he was a classical music major in college. That would all change when a drama coach overheard his distinctive voice and propelled the young Mascolo in another direction. While that direction would begin on the stage in an off-Broadway rendition of The Threepenny Opera, it would result in Joseph Mascolo becoming one of the most well-known (and hated) faces of daytime TV.
Before his stint on Days of Our Lives, Joseph had roles in a variety of popular (and not-so-memorable) TV shows, from The Gangster Chronicles to All in the Family. Then, he made the transition to Days of Our Lives and other popular daytime soap operas, including The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital.
Following the news of his tragic death, fans and colleagues of Joseph Mascolo took to social media to share their love and condolences with the beloved star’s bereaved family and loved ones. Some shared memories, all shared grief.
Just like sand through the hour glass so are the days of our lives #JosephMascolo RIP— Joe Teffo (@SirJoeTeffo) December 10, 2016
Joseph Mascolo is survived by his beloved wife Patricia, son and stepdaughter, and many grandchildren. While it is known that Mascolo suffered from a small stroke in the past as well as Alzheimer’s, his cause of death is not immediately known.
[Featured Image by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images]