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Jon Polito
Jon Polito.jpg
Polito in 1989
Jon Raymond Polito

(1950-12-29)December 29, 1950
Died(2016-09-01)September 1, 2016 (aged 65)
Years active1981–2016
Darryl Armbruster
(m. 2015)
RelativesJack Polito (brother)
AwardsCinequest Film Festival: 
 Maverick Spirit Event Award
 Best Actor in a Short Film

Jon Raymond Polito (December 29, 1950 – September 1, 2016) was an American character actor.[1] In a film and television career spanning 35 years, he amassed over 220 credits.[2] Notable television roles included Detective Steve Crosetti in the first two seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street and as Phil Bartoli on the first season of Crime Story. He also appeared in several films including The Rocketeer, The Crow and Gangster Squad, as well as his work with the Coen brothers. He appeared in five of their films, including Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski. Polito also portrayed legendary "hungry i" nightclub impresario Enrico Banducci in a large supporting role in Tim Burton's 2014 film Big Eyes starring Amy Adams.

Homicide: Life on the Street

Polito was initially reluctant to audition for Homicide as he didn't want to move to Baltimore for the series, having just relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. His agents sent him the script anyway, featuring a dialogue scene between a Polish-American and an Irish-American detective. Polito preferred the Irish detective role, but was told that he could only do the Polish one. After reading for the part Polito added a message on his audition tape saying that if the producers wanted to call him back he would only be interested if he could take the part of the Irish detective. Series co-creators Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana rewrote the character as an Italian named Steve Crosetti and cast him in the role. The Polish detective was also rewritten, becoming Detective Meldrick Lewis, and was played by African-American actor Clark Johnson.[3]

The show was rating poorly and the producers were under pressure from NBC to include a new female character (Megan Russert) in the hope of gaining broader appeal. As a result, they decided to write out Polito's character at the end of Season 2. Fontana assured him that he would be brought back later in the season, but Polito was unhappy and criticized the producers publicly, an action he later regretted.[3] The outburst caused a rift with Fontana[1] and the Crosetti character was killed off early in Season 3, with the explanation that the detective had committed suicide. This further infuriated Polito, who again complained to the media, triggering a public slagging match between him and Fontana. Interviewed about the situation in 2005, Polito expressed regret for his handling of the matter. He noted that he and Fontana subsequently patched up their differences, and as a result the Crosetti character returned to make a farewell appearance as a spirit in Homicide: The Movie.[3][4]

Coen brothers collaboration

Polito was a regular in the Coen brothers movies appearing in five of their films. The Coens had seen Polito in the New York stage adaptation of Death of a Salesman in 1986 playing Howard Wagner. They approached him to play the part of The Dane in Miller's Crossing (1990), but after reading the script he turned them down saying he would only play the Italian gangster Johnny Caspar. The Coens auditioned several other actors but eventually used Polito after they made him read his entire role cold.[5]

He was offered the role of Lou Breeze in their next film Barton Fink (1991), in a role which was written especially for him. Again he turned down the Coens offer saying he wanted to play the part of movie producer Jack Lipnick. Actress Frances McDormand persuaded him to take the role saying it would change his career.[5] He later appeared in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) as an eccentric businessman, The Big Lebowski (1998) as a private detective and finally in 2001 as a flirtatious salesman in The Man Who Wasn't There.[5]


Polito won an Obie Award in 1980 for his theater performances off Broadway and for his lifetime of work in film and television he received the Maverick Spirit Event Award at Cinequest Film Festival in 2005.[6] In 2012, he won the award for "Best Actor in a Short Film" at Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival.[7]

Personal life

Polito was born on December 29, 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John and Delaida "Dee" (née Pompei) Polito. He had an older brother and sister, Rosemary Simpson and Jack Polito, an animator.[8] After acting at the West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys, he studied theater at Villanova University.[8]

Polito was openly gay.[9][10] He married fellow actor Darryl Armbruster on October 16, 2015, fifteen years after they first met.[8]

He died, at age 65, from multiple myeloma on September 1, 2016,[11] at the City of Hope Hospital, where he was being treated.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Gangster Chronicles Tommy "Three Finger Brown" Lucchese
1982 The Clairvoyant[12] Detective Sporaco Also known as The Killing Hour
1984 The Princess and the Call Girl Private Detective
C.H.U.D.[12] Newscaster
1985 Compromising Positions[12] 1st Cop Credited as John Polito
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins[12] Zack
1986 Highlander[12] Detective Walter Bedsoe
Dream Lover[12] Dr. James
Fire with Fire[12] Boss
1987 Critical Condition[13] Kline
1988 Homeboy[12] 'Moe Fingers'
1990 The Freshman[12] Chuck Greenwald
Miller's Crossing[12] Giovanni Gasparo / Johnny Caspar
1991 Barton Fink[12] Lou Breeze
The Rocketeer[12] Bigelow
1992 Leather Jackets[13] Fat Jack
Flodders in America Larry Rosenbaum Flodder in Amerika! in Dutch
1993 The Contenders Pedro Perusia
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy[12] Mr. Bumstead
The Crow[12] Gideon
Blankman[12] Michael "The Suit" Minelli
1995 Fluke[12] Boss
Bushwhacked[12] FBI Agent Palmer
1996 Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco[13] [14] Ashcan Voice
Just Your Luck Nick Direct-to-video
Inside Out Paparazzi Short film
Included in Boys Life 3
1997 The Corporate Ladder Mr. Deacon
1998 The Big Lebowski[12] Private Investigator Da Fino
With Friends Like These...[13] Rudy Ptak
Tale of the Mummy Parsons
Music from Another Room Lorenzo Palmieri
Nowhere Land[12] Frank
1999 Angel's Dance[12] "Uncle Vinnie"
Road Kill[12] Jelly
The Green Mile D Block Prison Guard Uncredited
Stuart Little[12] Detective Sherman
Carlo's Wake[12] Uncle Gus
Surgeon General's Warning The Other Guy Short film
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle[12] Schoentell
The Dancing Pumpkin Animated short
Credited as John Polito
The Tangerine Bear: Home in Time for Christmas! Virgil Voice
Boys Life 3 Paparazzi Segment: Inside Out
2000 Flies on Cupid Giorgio Gagantano
2001 The Tailor of Panama[12] Ramón Rudd, The Banker
Frank's Last Dance Frank Short film
Mimic 2[12] Morrie Deaver Direct-to-video
The Shrink Is In[12] Judge Bob
The Man Who Wasn't There[12] Creighton Tolliver
After Sex Naldo Credited as John Polito
2002 Black Mask 2: City of Masks King
29 Palms[13] The Security Guard
2003 The Singing Detective[12] Second Hood
View from the Top Roy Roby
No Credits, No Peace The Network Executive Short film
The Box Michael Dickerson
2004 Charlie the Ox Freddy Boon
The Last Shot[12] Wally Kamin
2005 Short Order
2006 The Alibi Jimmy The Photographer Released on DVD as Lies & Alibis
Cutting Room[13] Sandy
Grilled[12] Leon Waterman
Flags of Our Fathers[12] Borough President
Big Nothing[12] Agent Hymes
Happily N'Ever After[12][14] Wolf 1 Voice
Credited as John Polito
Cleaners Short film
2007 Cougar Club[13] Mr. Archibald
American Gangster[12] Rossi
2008 The Marconi Bros. Lou Burns
Bart Got a Room[13] Bob
Animated American[13] Max Rabbit Short film
2009 Super Capers: The Origins of Ed and the Missing Bullion[12] Captain Sludge
Locker 13 Don Dillon Short film
Also known as Locker 13: Down and Out
2010 DC Showcase: The Spectre[14] Police Captain Voice
Animated short film
Burning Palms Ned
The Grind HIM
Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam Police Captain Voice
Animated short film
DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection Police Captain Voice
Segment: "The Spectre"
Venus & Vegas Frank
The Last Godfather Don Bonfante
Stiffs John "The Prince" Monaco
The Talking Head Mr. Opportunity Short film
2011 Son of Morning Mr. Bordasche
Atlas Shrugged: Part I[13] Orren Boyle
From the Head[13] Vinnie
Batman: Year One[13][14] Commissioner Loeb Voice
2012 Jonny Boy Jonny Boy Short film
Anti-Muse Anti-Muse Short film
2013 Gangster Squad[13] Jack Dragna
2014 Big Eyes[12] Enrico Banducci
2018 The Maestro Herbert Englehart Final film role; posthumous


Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Gangster Chronicles Tommy "Three Finger Brown" Lucchese Miniseries
1983 Running Out Joe Poswalsky TV movie
1984 A Good Sport Man in Taxi TV movie
1985 Death of a Salesman[12] Howard TV movie
1986 A Deadly Business[12] Vitola TV movie
1986–1988 Crime Story[12] Phil Bartoli 16 episodes
1986-1989 The Equalizer[12] David Pfieffer / Gene Carmack / Carmack / Gianni 4 episodes
1987 Ohara Captain Ross 11 episodes
1988 Alone in the Neon Jungle[12] Brad Stakowski TV movie
Wiseguy Eddie Van Platt Season 1 episode 14: "Player to Be Named Now"
Miami Vice[5] El Gato 2 episodes
1989 Livin' Large Sal TV movie
Trying Times Agent Caponello Season 2 episode 3: "Death and Taxes"
1991 Tales from the Crypt[12] Nikos Stano Season 3 Episode 4: "Deadline"
Empty Nest Slocum Season 4 episode 5: "Harry's Got a Gun"
1992 Hearts Are Wild[12] Leon "Pepe" Pepperman 4 episodes
1992-1994 Murder, She Wrote[13] Lieutenant Peter DiMartini 2 episodes
1993 Dinosaurs Ty Warner Voice
Season 3 episode 17: "Swamp Music"
Fallen Angels[13] Al Reseck Episode: "I'll Be Waiting"
The Untouchables Tommy Palumbo 2 episodes
1993-1994 Homicide: Life on the Street[12] Detective Steve Crosetti 13 episodes
1994 Viper Councilman Strand Season 1 episode 1: "Pilot"
Girls in Prison[12] Boss Johnson TV movie
The Shaggy Dog[12] Detective Al TV movie
1995 Chicago Hope Detective Bill Ranford Season 1 episode 14: "Life Support"
Mad About You[13] Ralphy Season 3 episode 22: "My Boyfriend's Back!"
Burke's Law Tony Renaldo Season 2 episode 10: "Who Killed Cock-a-Doodle Dooley?"
NYPD Blue[13] Paul Biaggi Season 3 episode 3: "One Big Happy Family"
The Invaders Whitley, Metro HQ Miniseries
High Society Alvin Spalding Episode 8: "We Ought to Be in Pictures"
1995-1996 Dream On Louie 4 episodes
1996-1998 New York Undercover John Dennis 2 episodes
1996 High Incident Victor the Clown Season 1 episode 4: "Women & Children First"
Swift Justice Tom Luddy Episode 4: "Supernote"
The Pretender Ben Hansel Episode: "A Virus Among Us"
Roseanne Mr. Russo Season 9 episode 2: "Millions from Heaven"
1996-2000 The Pretender Constantin Falzone / Ben Hansel 2 episodes
1997 Fired Up Sam Harris Episode: "Domestic Bliss"
Over the Top Mr. Hampstead Episode 8: The Bee Story
Life with Louie Red Meat Voice
Season 3 episode 6: "Louie's Harrowing Halloween"
Night Man Al Capone Season 1 episode 10: "That Ol' Gang of Mine"
Invasion[12] Detective Kemper Miniseries
1997-2000 Early Edition Cliff Mourning / Louie DeFozio 2 episodes
1998 Players Pappas Season 1 episode 9: "Mint Condition"
Jenny Sid Bouchie Episode 10: A Girl's Gotta Get It"
Seinfeld[13] Silvio Season 9 episode 12: The Reverse Peephole"
New York Undercover Rinaldi / John Dennis 2 episodes
The Defenders: Choice of Evils[12] District Attorney Al Orsini TV movie
Money Play$ Lou Spano TV movie
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show Marvin 'Marv' Fishland Season 2 episode 2: "Honey, She's Like a Fish Out of Water"
Veronica's Closet Mr. Lehman Season 2 Episode 4: "Veronica's Dog Day Afternoon"
Millennium Eddie Scarpino Giannini Season 3 episode 9: "Omerta"
1999 Nash Bridges Roland Margolis Season 5 episode 1: "Truth and Consequences"
Good vs. Evil Howard Season 1 episode 9: "Sunday Night Evil"
The Apartment Complex[12] Dr. Caligari TV movie
2000 Homicide: The Movie[12] Steve Crosetti TV movie
Popular Caesar Croutons Season 1 episode 19: "Hard on the Outside, Soft in the Middle"
The Invisible Man Eddie The Mammoth Season 1 episode 1: "Pilot"
Gideon's Crossing Lou Peda Episode 4: "The Race"
Batman Beyond Major Voice
Season 3 episode 9: "The Betryal"
Oh Yeah! Cartoons Fisherman "The Fairly OddParents: The Really Bad Day/Baxter and Bananas: Monkey See, Monkey Don't!/Tales from the Goose Lady: The Fisherman, the Fisherman's Wife, and the Fish"
Segment: "Tales from the Goose Lady: The Fisherman, the Fisherman's Wife, and the Fish"
Nature Boy Mort Ruby TV movie
2001 The Chris Isaak Show Rhonda Parks Season 1 episode 16: "Our Place"
2001-2002 The Drew Carey Show Stansfield 3 episodes
The Chronicle Donald Stern 22 episodes
2002 Becker Leonard Nagle Season 4 episode 20: "Piece Talks"
Time Squad Al Capone Voice
Season 2 Episode 5a: "The Clownfather"
Women vs. Men Desk Sgt. TV movie
Push, Nevada[12] Silas Bodnick Episode 1: "The Amount"
She Spies Edward Malloy Season 1 episode 6: "Ice Man"
2002-2003 Gilmore Girls Pete / Father in Kirk's Film 2 episodes
2003 Dragnet[12] Richard Maughm Season 1 Episode 1: "The Silver Slayer"
Crossing Jordan Dick Season 2 episode 14: "Wild Card"
The Lyon's Den Mr. Carpeggi Episode 5: "Trick or Treat"
Life on Parole Ernie TV movie
2003-2004 Oliver Beene Mr. Rayfield 2 episodes
2004 10-8: Officers on Duty Enzo Fontana Episode 15: "Wild and the Innocent"
It's All Relative Leonard Episode 17: "A Long Day's Journey Into Leonard's"
Judging Amy District Attorney Gerald Abner 2 episodes
The Jury Johnny Pappas Episode 7: "The Boxer"
Scrubs Mr. Summers Season 4 episode 10: "My Female Trouble"
My Wife and Kids Minister Season 5 episode 10: "The Wedding"
2005 Family Plan[12] Gold TV movie
Desperate Housewives[12] Charles Skouras Season 1 episode 14: "Love Is in the Air"
Without a Trace Jimmy 'The Tooth' Fusco Season 3 episode 17: "Lone Star"
American Dad: The New CIA Petruchio Animated TV short
Gone, But Not Forgotten Sam Oberhurst TV movie/miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Phillip Margolin
Was to be aired in 2004, but released direct-to-video in 2005, aired in 2006 on Lifetime
Threshold Nicky Frost Episode 7: "The Order"
Avatar: The Last Airbender Chief Arnook (voice) 3 episodes
The Buzz on Maggie New Aldrin / New Pupert Voice
Episode 14 - Segement:F "Those Pesky Roaches"
2005-2008 Ghost Whisperer Joe Grimaldi 2 episodes
2006 Masters of Horror Montesquino Season 1 episode 12: "Haeckel's Tale"
Handy Manny Joe Bolotero Voice
Season 1 episode 9: "Supremoguy/Tool Talk"
2007 Medium Vincent DiScala Season 3 episode 9: "Better Off Dead"
2007-2008 El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera[14] Don Bafi Voice
3 episodes
2008 Las Vegas The Cleaner Season 5 episode 15: "Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast"
Rock Monster The Colonel TV movie
Chowder[14] Funjl / Guy Voice
Season 1 episode 11: "The Moldy Touch/The Heavy Sleeper"
Do Not Disturb R.J. Episode 3: "Dosing"
Chocolate News Harvey Silverstein "Episode 7"
Two and a Half Men Mr. Sharipa Season 6 episode 10: "He Smelled the Ham, He Got Excited"
2008-2009 Raising the Bar Judge Dominick Ventimiglia 10 episodes
2009 Monk George Gionopolis Season 7 episode 16: "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall"
Citizen Jane Detective Romer TV move
2009-2010 Glenn Martin DDS Vito Renzuli 2 episodes
2010 The Mentalist Duesterberg Season 2 episode 15: "Red Herring"
2011 Funny or Die Presents... Eddy Episode #2.1 - Segment: "United States Police Department"
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien DN Alien Mizaru / Mizaru Voice
Season 3 episode 2: "Simian Says"
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Gino Reynolds Season 7 episode 5: "Frank's Brother"
ThunderCats[14] Conquedor Voice
Episode 9: "Berbils"
2012 Franklin & Bash "Lucky" Louie Gianelli Season 2 episode 3: "Jango and Rossi"
Robot and Monster[14] Sir Cranklin Voice
Episode 16: "First Impressions"
Mike & Molly Frankie Moranto Season 3 episode 7: "Thanksgiving Is Canceled"
2012-2013 Bunheads Sal Russano 2 episodes
2014 Castle Harold Metzger Season 6 episode 20: "That '70s Show"
Murder in the First Judge Greer / Judge Emerson Greer 3 episodes
39 to Go Mathis 2 episodes
Saint Francis Cupcake TV movie
2014–2016 Modern Family Earl Chambers 3 episodes
2015 Broker Ignacio Ronconi TV short
2016 American Dad! Dr. Kalgary Voice
Season 11 episode 1: "Roots"
Comedy Bang! Bang! Frank O'Brien Season 5 episode 3: "Tony Hale Wears a Blue Flannel Shirt and Fuchsia Sneakers"
Major Crimes Dino Kotero Season 5 episode 5: "Cashed Out"
Ultimate Spider-Man[14] Hammerhead Voice
Season 4 episode 18: "Return to the Spider-Verse: Part 3"
2017 The Super Man Floyd Season 2 episode 9: "Dumpster Diving"
Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure[14] Griffon of Pittsford Voice
Season 1 episode 18: "Not in the Mood"
Final TV role; posthumous

Video games

Video games
Year Title Role Notes
1999 Lands of Lore III Dark Army Orc / Elliott The Guard / Viscosa Voice
2007 Dead Head Fred Ulysses S. Pitt Voice
2013 Batman: Arkham Origins G.C.P.D. Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb Voice
2016 Batman: Arkham Underworld Carmine Falcone Voice


  1. ^ a b "R.I.P. Jon Polito, a favorite of the Coen Brothers". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Jon Polito, Actor in Coen Brothers Films, Dies at 65". Variety. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Jon Polito interview". The Groucho Reviews. March 5, 2005. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  4. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer (December 2, 1994). "Character's Suicide Has Actor Steaming". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Jon Polito - Random Roles". A.V. Club. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  6. ^ Crane, Pete (2005). "Maverick Spirit Event: Jon Polito: American Dynamo". Cinequest.
  7. ^ "Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival - List of awards 2012". Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Slotnik, Daniel E. (September 2, 2016). "Jon Polito, a Favorite in Coen Brothers Films, Dies at 65". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  9. ^ "Name Dropping with Jason Stuart… Jon Polito". September 29, 2010.
  10. ^ "Jon Polito Interview Pt 3". July 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Nicole Bitette (September 2, 2016). "Jon Polito, known for roles in Coen brothers films, dead at 65". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc "Jon Polito". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Jon Polito Filmography". Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j

External links

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