Saturday, December 5, 2015

Robert Loggia Dead at 85; Soap Opera Credits Included 'The Secret Storm' and 'Search for Tomorrow'

Robert Loggia in 1977.
Oscar-nominated actor Robert Loggia has died at age 85. Loggia's wife Aubrey Loggia said he died Friday at his home in Los Angeles after a five year battle with Alzheimer's. "His poor body gave up," she said. "He loved being an actor and he loved his life."

Loggia was well known for his roles in gangster movies, playing a Miami drug lord in Scarface, which starred Al Pacino; and a Sicilian mobster in Prizzi's Honor, with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner. He played wise guys in David Lynch's Lost Highway, the spoofs Innocent Blood and Armed and Dangerous, and again on David Chase's The Sopranos, as the previously jailed veteran mobster Michele "Feech" La Manna.

It was not as a gangster but as a seedy detective that Loggia received his only Academy Award nomination, as supporting actor in 1985's Jagged Edge. He played gumshoe Sam Ransom, who investigated a murder involving Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges.

Loggia gave an endearing comic performance in Penny Marshall's 1988 Big, when he danced with Tom Hanks on a giant piano keyboard. Hanks played an adolescent granted a wish to be big, overnight becoming a 30-something man who – still mentally a boy –eventually finds work at a toy company run by Loggia's character. A chance meeting in a toy store leads to the pair tapping out joyful duets of "Chopsticks" and "Heart and Soul" on the piano keys built into the floor.

Loggia also appeared in five films for comedy director Blake Edwards, including three Pink Panther films and the dark comedy S.O.B. He also portrayed Joseph, husband of Mary, in George Stevens' biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Asked in 1990 how he maintained such a varied career, he responded: "I'm a character actor in that I play many different roles, and I'm virtually unrecognizable from one role to another. So I never wear out my welcome."

In 1966 Loggia landed the lead role in the NBC television drama T.H.E. Cat, but the series was canceled after one season. Loggia would later take on key roles in established daytime dramas. He was the third Frank Carver on CBS soap opera The Secret Storm, following Laurence Luckinbill and Jack Ryland in the role. Loggia then played Dr. Tony Vincente on CBS' Search for Tomorrow.

In 1975 he returned to TV with a role in a two-part episode of the TV show Mannix, and he was soon working regularly again. He even starred in another TV series, Mancuso, FBI, a spinoff of Loggia's character in the 1988 miniseries Favorite Son.

Among his later roles was as a general and presidential adviser in the 1996 sci-fi thriller Independence Day.

In 2003 Loggia appeared in four episodes of HBO's The Sopranos, as gangster Feech La Manna, who was released from prison and sought to return to the Mafia. Tony Soprano worried about La Manna's uncontrollable temper and tricked him into violating his parole.

The son of Sicilian immigrants, Loggia was born in 1930 in New York City's borough of Staten Island. He grew up in Manhattan's Little Italy section.

First inclined toward newspaper work, he studied journalism at the University of Missouri, but was drawn to acting and returned to New York to study at the Actors Studio.

He appeared on Studio One, Playhouse 90 and other live dramatic series during television's Golden Age. He made his stage debut off-Broadway in 1956 in "The Man with the Golden Arm," appearing in the title role of a drug addict, played in the movie by Frank Sinatra.

His Broadway debut came in 1964 with the Actors Studio production of Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" which also appeared in London.

In 1956 Loggia made his film debut in Somebody Up There Likes Me, playing mobster Frankie Peppo, who tries to persuade boxer Rocky Graziano (Paul Newman) to throw a fight.

Loggia married Marjorie Sloane in 1954, and they had three children, daughters Tracey and Kristina and son John.

After their divorce, Loggia married Audrey O'Brien in 1982.

1 comment: