When you think of Jon Polito, you can’t be faulted for thinking of him as a gangster. With his gravelly voice, Italian-American heritage, and a face that oozed menace, he seemed perfect for those types of roles. But Jon Polito was a diverse actor, at home in comedies as well as crime-dramas, at playing cops as well as criminals. The prolific character actor died on Thursday due to an infection he acquired during a recent surgery. He was 65.
Polito broke on the scene in the 1981 TV series, The Gangster Chronicles, playing real-life Mafia founder Thomas Lucchese. This started Polito on a 35 year career in film and television. He had supporting roles in films such as C.H.U.D., Critical Condition, The Freshman, The Crow, The Rocketeer, The Green Mile, Gangster Squad and Big Eyes.
In 1990, Polito played Johnny Caspar in the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing. It would be the first of five films made with the brothers, with Polito also having roles in 1991’s Barton Fink, 1994’s The Hudsucker Proxy, 1998’s The Big Lebowski, and 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There.
On TV, Polito has guest roles on Wiseguy, Murder She Wrote, The Equalizer, Dream On, Roseanne and Seinfeld. He was also a series regular on Crime Story, Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Chronicle and Raising the Bar.
Polito’s distinctive voice found a home in a number of animated projects, notably Batman Beyond, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.
Politi had recently been cast in The Maestro, which is being listed as being in filming on IMDB with a 2017 release date.