Jay Novello

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Jay Novello
Born Michael Romano
(1904-08-22)August 22, 1904
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died September 2, 1982(1982-09-02) (aged 78)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Resting place
San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Radio, film and television actor
Years active 1930-1977
Spouse(s) Rose Motto (1 child)
Patricia C. (Lucy) Lewis
(1961-1982) (his death)
Children Yvonne Ann (Romano) Harscher

Jay Novello (August 22, 1904 – September 2, 1982) was an American radio, film, and television character actor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago as Michael Romano, of Italian descent.


Novello began his career on radio in the 1930s. He played Jack Packard on the Hollywood version of I Love a Mystery for a brief period during the mid-1940s. He usually put his suave, cultured voice and dexterity at accents to use in supporting roles, often of an ethnic nature.[citation needed]

He was heard regularly on Rocky Jordan, (as Cairo police captain Lt. Sam Sabaaya), the radio version of The Lone Wolf (as Jamison the butler), and the long-running serial One Man's Family (as Judge Glenn Hunter). He was also heard on Escape, Crime Classics, Lux Radio Theater, Suspense, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, among others.

In film, Novello alternated between pompous or fussy professionals and assorted ethnic roles, often as Italian or Hispanic characters. One of his earliest and more familiar film appearances is in the 1945 Laurel and Hardy comedy The Bullfighters, in which Novello plays a Latin restaurateur. Though prolific in the movies, Novello was limited mostly to bits in minor films, one of his more noteworthy assignments being the officious Spanish consul in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles.[citation needed]

Besides several appearances on CBS's I Love Lucy, Novello guest starred on a 1952 episode of CBS's espionage drama Biff Baker, U.S.A., starring Alan Hale, Jr. He appeared too on NBC's Northwest Passage series, based on the work of Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War. He appeared with James Best, John Dehner, and Paul Richards in 1956 on NBC's western anthology series Frontier in the episode "The Texicans". About this time, he also guest starred in Brian Keith's first series, Crusader, a Cold War drama which aired on CBS. He was cast in a 1955 episode as Andre in "Sock Plays Cupid" of Jackie Cooper's NBC sitcom, The People's Choice.

In 1957, he guest starred in Frank Lovejoy's NBC detective series, The Adventures of McGraw, initially titled Meet McGraw.[1] In 1958, he was cast in five episodes as Juan Greco on ABC's Zorro, with Guy Williams and in this same year he showed the power of his acting ability by playing the role of Gio Bartolo in the episode "Sidewalk Fisherman" in the acclaimed ABC series, Naked City.

In "Small Hostage" (May 26, 1959) of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Sugarfoot, with Will Hutchins in the title role, Novello plays the vivacious Pepe Valdez, the owner of an orphanage in Mexico, who persuades a United States Army colonel, Cyrus Craig (Robert Warwick), that a blonde Anglo boy in the orphanage, "Chico" (Gary Hunley), is the colonel's grandson. Craig had come south of the border to reclaim from a cemetery the body of Craig's military son killed in an Apache attack. Until the end of the episode, Craig continues to have doubts about Chico's parentage.[2]

He also guest starred in episodes of two ABC sitcoms, The Donna Reed Show as Nick Melinas in "The Love Letter" (1960) and on The Real McCoys, in which he plays the fiance of Gladys Purvis (Lurene Tuttle), the widowed mother of Kate McCoy (Kathleen Nolan). At first the Novello character clashes with Grandpa Amos McCoy (Walter Brennan), but the two are reconciled over a game of horseshoes.[3]

Between 1957 and 1960, Novello appeared in two episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston.[4] He appeared in the ABC/WB detective series, Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan. He guest starred as Beanie in the 1958 episode "Arson" of David Janssen's CBS crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. In 1962, he played coin collector Nickolas Trevelian in "The Case of the Captain's Coins". He appeared in the syndicated crime drama, Johnny Midnight, starring Edmond O'Brien. Novello guest starred twice on CBS's The Andy Griffith Show, as the main character in the episode entitled "Guest of Honor" and as an opportunist lawyer in "Otis Sues the County". He secured an early guest spot on the television incarnation of Gangbusters as famed bank robber Willie Sutton. He was a regular on ABC's McHale's Navy as the con artist Mayor Mario Lugatto of Volta Fiore, Italy.[citation needed]

He appeared in the episode of Climax!, Escape From Fear, and had a recurring role on Zorro as Juan Greco. Novello also appeared in several episodes of the ABC/WB series, Lawman, with John Russell and Peter Brown. He was cast as Guido Morales in the 1960 episode "Unsurrendered Sword" of another ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams. He also appeared in an episode of the Brady Bunch as Mr. Martinelli, the owner of a bike shop who hires, and then fires, Peter Brady.

Personal life and death[edit]

His first marriage to Rose Motto ended in divorce. In 1961, he married Patricia C. Lewis and they remained together until his death.

He died in 1982, aged 78, and is interred in Los Angeles, California, at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.


  1. ^ "’’Meet McGraw’’". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ ""Small Hostage", May 26, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Full Cast and Crew for The Real McCoys (1957)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Colt .45". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved December 17, 2012. 

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