Joe Spano

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Joe Spano
Joe Spano in 2022.jpg
Joe Spano in San Francisco, October 2022
Joseph Peter Spano

(1946-07-07) July 7, 1946 (age 76)
Years active1967–present
Joan Zerrien
(m. 1980)

Joseph Peter Spano (born July 7, 1946) is an American actor best known for his roles as Lt. Henry Goldblume on Hill Street Blues and FBI Special Agent Tobias C. Fornell on NCIS. He also voiced the Chuck E. Cheese (at the time Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre) character, Pasqually the Chef, from 1977–1983.


Spano was a member of the San Francisco improv group The Wing, and in college debuted as Paris in a production of Romeo and Juliet in 1967. In 1968, he helped found the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, appearing in its first production, and stayed with the company for ten years. He moved to Hollywood in the late 1970s, landing guest spots on TV and bit roles in American Graffiti (1973) and The Enforcer (1976).

In Hill Street Blues he played Henry Goldblume during the entire seven-year run of the series, first as a detective sergeant, later as a lieutenant. Goldblume was one of Hill Street precinct captain Frank Furillo's trusted junior officers, serving at times as a hostage negotiator and gangs relations officer. The character was sympathetic to crime victims, sometimes coming in conflict with his duties as a police officer. Spano was one of many actors appearing throughout each episode, which typically had several interwoven story lines.

After Hill Street Blues ended, Spano won recurring roles in television police shows Murder One (1995) and NYPD Blue (1993), again as a detective, and has appeared regularly in television movies and television shows like The X-Files (episodes "Tempus Fugit" and "Max"), Mercy Point and Amazing Grace. Spano won an Emmy award in 1988 for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series for a role he played in an episode of Midnight Caller. He has appeared in several feature films, including Apollo 13 and Primal Fear. His credits are often confused with Australian actor Joseph Spano. They are not related.[1]

He is a veteran stage actor on the east and west coasts. Spano made his Broadway debut in 1992 in the Roundabout Theater revival of Arthur Miller's The Price, with Eli Wallach, which was nominated for a Tony for Best Revival. West coast stage credits include Eduardo Pavlovsky's Potestad, and David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow and American Buffalo, for which he was awarded an LA Drama Critics Circle Award. At the Rubicon Theater in Ventura he has played General Burgoyne in George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple, Greg in A. R. Gurney's Sylvia and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot. He is a member of the Antaeus Theater Company and a founding member of three other theater companies.[2] He played a seductive vampire in the cult musical Dracula: A Musical Nightmare in a small Los Angeles theatre.[3] He also appeared in the TV movie Brotherhood of Justice with Keanu Reeves and Kiefer Sutherland.

He is the voice of the Wild Flower Hotline for the Theodore Payne Foundation, which can be reached by calling (818) 768-1802.


Spano has been a recurring character in NCIS since its premiere episode, "Yankee White", playing FBI Special Agent Tobias Fornell, the FBI counterpart to NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, portrayed by Mark Harmon. In Season 15, Fornell is no longer with the FBI, but is a private investigator.

Two episodes have used Fornell's personal life as the main crux of an NCIS episode: one where Fornell's daughter is imperiled and another where Fornell's career is imperiled. In each episode, it is the friendship between Gibbs and Fornell which is invoked in order to involve NCIS in the resolution.

Personal life[edit]

Spano was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Virginia Jean (née Carpenter) and Vincent Dante Spano, a physician.[4] He graduated from Archbishop Riordan High School in 1963, and he is an honorary member of the House of Russi. Spano and his wife Joan Zerrien, a therapist, were married in 1980. They have two adopted daughters.


Film and television[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Ovation Awards


  1. ^ Joe Spano (I) – Biography
  2. ^ "Joe Spano". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  3. ^ Joe Spano (I) - Biography
  4. ^ "Joe Spano Biography (1946-)". Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Ovation Nominees". 20 October 2009. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.

External links[edit]