Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Actor Paul Picerni Passes On

Actor Paul Pircerni, who was a regular on the TV series The Untouchables and appeared in the movie House of Wax (1953), passed on 12 January 2011. He was 91 years old. The cause was a heart attack.

Paul Picerni was born on 1 December 1922 in New York City. During World War II he joined the United States Army Air Force, where he served as a bombardier. He made his film debut in 1946 as an extra in In Fast Company. He had bit parts in Beyond Glory (1948) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949). Mr. Picerni appeared in several films in 1950, including The Secret Fury, Dial 119, and Breakthrough. In 1950 he also graduated from Loyola University in Los Angeles, California with a bachelor of arts.

Paul Picerni began the Fifties starring in more substantial roles. He appeared in such films as I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951), Fort Worth (1951), and Mara Maru (1952). In 1953 he played the hero in the classic horror film House of Wax opposite the great Vincent Price. He finished out the Fifties appearing in such films as The Beat From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), His Majesty O'Keefe (1954), The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954), To Hell and Back (1955), Miracle in the Rain (1956), The Big Caper (1957), The Brothers Rico (1957), Majorie Morningstar (1958), and The Young Philadelphians (1959). Mr. Picerni appeared on television frequently in the Fifties, in such shows as The Lone Wolf, Dragnet, Fireside Theatre, Mr. and Mrs. North, The Red Skelton Hour, Studio 57, Climax, Goodyear Television Playhouse, Four Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Zorro, Maverick, and The Loretta Young Show. In 1959 he appeared as Tony Liurgi in the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode "The Untouchables." When the episode was spun off into the TV Series The Untouchables the following year, Mr. Picerni was cast as Treasury Agent Lee Hobson. He appeared on the series from 1960 to 1963.

Throughout the Sixties Paul Picerni appeared on such shows as Perry Mason, The Fugitive, The Big Valley, Batman, Combat, Hogan's Heroes, The Virginian, Hawaii Five-O, and The F.B.I. He appeared in such movies as Fury River (1961), The Age of Violence (1964), The Scalphunters (1968), Che! (1969), and Airport (1970). In the Seventies Mr. Picerni appeared in such shows as The Immortal, Love American Style, Here's Lucy, Emergency, Marcus Welby M.D., Adam-12, Gunsmoke, Kolchak the Night Stalker, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, and Kojak. He appeared in the films Kotch (1971), The Fearmakers (1971), Capricorn One (1977), Escape to Athena(1979), and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979). From the Eighties into the Naughts, Mr. Picerni appeared in such shows as Trapper John M.D., Quince M.E., Sledge Hammer, and Diagnosis: Murder. He appeared in the film Three Days to Vegas  (2007), his last appearance on film.

Paul Picerni was a versatile actor. Gifted with the good looks of a leading man, he was actually a skilled character actor. Throughout his long career, Paul Picerni played everything from lawmen like Agent Hobson on The Untouchables to gangsters to Catholic priests to medical doctors. And he performed all of those roles quite well. If he appeared frequently on television, it is perhaps because he was an actor who could be counted upon in any guest part he was given.

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