Monday, December 26, 2005

No more Sanka for Mr. Vargas

Man, it's been a rough year on the celebrity deathwatch.

This morning, the world lost that unmistakable character actor Vincent Schiavelli, whose hangdog expression and wry wit graced such films as Ghost, Amadeus, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Schiavelli was 57 and suffered from lung cancer.

If you're a member of my rapidly aging generation, you remember Schiavelli as Hector Vargas, the ghoulish science teacher in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who enjoyed taking his classes on field trips to the county morgue. His students looked on in horror (or with glee, in the case of Sean's Penn's Jeff Spicoli, who stowed away on the outing) as Vargas dissected the cadavers of homeless men. (Mrs. Vargas, incidentally, was portrayed by Lana Clarkson, who spent a regrettable final evening on Earth at Phil Spector's house.)

And of course, Schiavelli appeared in one of the great cult films of all time, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, playing one of the alien Lectroid invaders, all of whom were named John (Schiavelli was John O'Connor). Schiavelli's classic line about Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers: "They're only monkey-boys — we can crush them here on earth, Lord Whorfin!" Classic stuff.

A man of many talents, Schiavelli authored a couple of cookbooks about Italian cuisine, and even spent a season hosting Cucina Amore, the Italian cooking show on PBS.

SSTOL extends its condolences to Mr. Schiavelli's family and friends.

2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Lynda offered these pearls of wisdom...

I didn't realize he was that guy... awww, now he was just too young!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Bruce England offered these pearls of wisdom...

Like my wife, Vincent had Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting connective tissue. Prior to the development of open heart surgery most Marfan patients died of aortic dissection, usually before they hit 40. Tragically, many continue to die young because their Marfan Syndrome goes undiagnosed until post mortem. Flo Hyman, the Olympic volleyball star, and Jonathan Larsen, the author of RENT, both died that way. My wife was lucky enough to suffer her dissection near Stanford, one of the few places on Earth in 1978 that had the surgical expertise to save her.

7:24 AM  

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