December 26, 1954 |
Early years and career beginnings
Rosato was born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Halifax, Ottawa, and Toronto. He planned to study chiropractic medicine, but dropped out of the University of Toronto after he began doing improv comedy at The Second City. Rosato first gained attention when he and Robin Duke joined the cast of the first incarnation of SCTV in its final season during the fall of 1980. His most well-known character on the program was a notoriously drunk TV chef named Marcello Sebastiani.
The height of his career
Saturday Night Live Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time actor
After SCTV, Rosato moved with Duke to the cast of Saturday Night Live for the 1981–1982 season, becoming the first cast member to be born outside of North America. Following Jean Doumanian's tenure during the sixth season and Dick Ebersol trying to retool the show (and relying on Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo to spice up the sketches), Rosato only appeared on the show for one year before leaving due to an expired contract.
Night Heat and early voice work
Rosato next emerged on the Canadian police drama Night Heat, playing Arthur 'Whitey' Morelli. This role lasted from 1985 through 1989. In autumn of 1990, Rosato portrayed Nintendo's character Luigi on DiC's television show The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (loosely based around the video game of the same title). He continued his role as Luigi in 1991 for the Super Mario World cartoon. He continued to appear in television and film regularly throughout the 1990s.
He has also done voices for other animated series including Pelswick, George and Martha, Rescue Heroes, Birdz, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Hello Kitty and Friends, Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse, Peep and the Big Wide World, Interlude, Pippi Longstocking, Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend, Rolie Polie Olie, Bad Dog, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, Little Bear, Monster by Mistake, Odd Job Jack, Free Willy, Blazing Dragons, The Neverending Story, Flash Gordon, Timothy Goes to School, Time Warp Trio, Roboroach, Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Cyberchase, Redwall, Power Stone, Anatole, Elliott Moose, Sailor Moon, Ned's Newt, Medabots, Highlander: The Animated Series, Corduroy, Freaky Stories, King, Blaster's Universe, Stickin' Around, Bob and Margaret, Flying Rhino Junior High, Avengers: United They Stand, Silver Surfer, The Dumb Bunnies, Undergrads, Quads!, Angela Anaconda, Cyberchase, Slam Dunk, The Ripping Friends, Committed, Bedtime Primetime Classics, Elliott Moose, Franklin, Braceface, George Shrinks, Delta State, Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series, Mr. Men and Little Miss, The Dumb Bunnies, The Accuser, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, Atomic Betty and Mischief City.
Arrest and mental-health issues
On May 5, 2005, Rosato was arrested and charged with criminal harassment of his wife Leah, who asserted that his deteriorating mental health had caused her to fear for her safety and that of the couple's infant daughter. The charge was laid after Rosato complained repeatedly to Toronto and Kingston police that his wife, who had recently left him, and daughter had been abducted and replaced by impostors, a belief characteristic of Capgras delusion, a delusional misidentification syndrome with which the Crown's expert psychiatrist had diagnosed Rosato, according to Rosato's eighth lawyer, Daniel Brodsky. It was alleged that the harassment occurred from December 28, 2003 and escalated until April 21, 2005. In spite of the diagnosis, Rosato, who denied mental illness and refused to plead insanity, was held for over two years without bail at a maximum-security detention centre. Daniel Brodsky, who called his client's two-year detention awaiting trial "shocking," asserted that Rosato "spent more time in custody on a harassment charge" than anyone ever convicted of the offence in Canada, estimating that "on average, someone convicted of criminal harassment spends one day in jail and two years on probation." The trial finally commenced on August 7, 2007, in Kingston and it ended on September 5, 2007. In the end, the prosecution downgraded the charge to summary (misdemeanour) from indictable (felony). Rosato was spared a criminal conviction and handed a conditional discharge, including a psychiatric hospital residence order, issued for a maximum of three years. Rosato was released from the hospital in December 2009 but remained on probation until September 2010.
SCTV and SNL characters
Celebrities impersonated by Rosato on SCTV include: Lou Costello (whom he also impersonated when he was a castmember on Saturday Night Live), William Conrad, Danny Thomas, Woodstock co-organizer Chip Monck, SNL castmember John Belushi, Tony Orlando and Ella Fitzgerald. His characters on SNL, despite his short tenure, were memorable as well, and included Ed Asner (in character as Lou Grant), Captain Kangaroo, and U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese.