|Born||Robert Joseph Pastorelli
June 21, 1954
New Brunswick, New Jersey
|Died||March 8, 2004
Hollywood Hills, California
|Cause of death||Morphine overdose|
(?–1999; her death)
(1992–2004; his death)
Robert Joseph Pastorelli (June 21, 1954 – March 8, 2004) was an American actor. He had many roles on TV, in movies, and on the stage. For seven years, he played painter Eldin Bernecky on the television series Murphy Brown. Pastorelli died of a morphine overdose in 2004.
Pastorelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Dotty, an artist, and Ledo Pastorelli, an insurance salesman. Pastorelli was of Albanian descent from Italy. His sister, Gwen Pastorelli, is an opera singer and a real estate agent. He was a 1972 graduate of Edison High School in Edison, New Jersey. He initially planned to start a career as a boxer, but had to give up the sport after suffering a near-fatal car accident. Pastorelli later claimed that he had a "near death" experience at this time: he professed that he saw himself hovering over his body in a hospital bed and saw his father overcome with grief.
Pastorelli was an admitted drug addict before he achieved sobriety. Once sober, he pursued theater work in New York City in such 1970s productions as Rebel Without a Cause, The Rainmaker, and Death of a Salesman. In 1982, he headed to Los Angeles and turned to film and TV, soon finding a niche playing streetwise characters. After supporting Bette Midler and Shelley Long in Outrageous Fortune and Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop II, his first substantial film role came with Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves. However, it was on TV that he would hit his stride as Candice Bergen's gruff but lovable house painter Eldin Bernecky on Murphy Brown, staying with the show for seven seasons. Murphy Brown producer Diane English gave Pastorelli his own starring vehicle, the sitcom Double Rush, which lasted one season in 1995. Two years later, Pastorelli headlined the American adaptation of the British detective series Cracker.
With his TV career came more visible roles in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Striking Distance, Michael, and Modern Vampires. He played the role of salty Luther Billis in the mini-movie remake of South Pacific with Glenn Close, then appeared alongside Close on stage in A Streetcar Named Desire a year later. His final, posthumous, screen appearance was in Be Cool as Joe Loop in 2005.
Pastorelli was found dead at his home in Hollywood Hills in 2004; a syringe, a spoon, and a plastic bag with white powder were discovered near his body. His death occurred at the time the authorities were reopening the investigation into the March 1999 shooting death of his then girlfriend, 25-year-old Charemon Jonovich, at their home. The Coroner's Office later reported that Pastorelli died of "fatal blood concentration of morphine".
Pastorelli was interred at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, New Jersey.
Pastorelli had two daughters. One is Gianna Li Pastorelli (born February 6, 1998), with Charemon Jonovich. His second daughter is Giannina Marie Pastorelli (born March 6, 2000), with long-time girlfriend Jalee Carder, a former fashion designer and co-owner of Stone Marten.
- Knight Rider as Leroy (1983) Episode - Custom K.I.T.T. Season 2 Episode 8
- Newhart as Prisoner (1983) Television series
- I Married a Centerfold as Guard (1984)
- California Girls as Mechanic (1985)
- The A-Team as Dixon (1985)
- Beauty and the Beast as Eric Ramos (1987-1988), Television series
- Outrageous Fortune as Dealer #2 (1987)
- Hands of a Stranger as Handyman (1987) (TV)
- Beverly Hills Cop II as Vinnie (1987)
- Memories of Me as Al (1988)
- Lady Mobster as Matteo Villani (1988)
- Murphy Brown as Eldin Bernecky (1988-1994), Television series
- Dances with Wolves as Timmons (1990)
- The Paint Job as Willie (1992)
- Folks! as Fred (1992)
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest as Tony (1992)
- Striking Distance as Det. Jimmy Detillo (1993)
- Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit as Joey Bustamante (1993)
- Harmful Intent as Devlin O'Shea (1993)
- The Yarn Princess as Jake Thomas (1994)
- The West Side Waltz as Sookie Cerullo (1995)
- Double Rush as Johnny Verona (1995)
- Eraser as John "Johnny C" Casteleone (1996)
- Michael as Huey Driscoll (1996)
- A Simple Wish as Oliver Greening (1997)
- Cracker as Gerry Fitzgerald (1997)
- Scotch and Milk as The Skipper (1998)
- Heist as T-Bone (1998)
- Modern Vampires as The Count (1998)
- Bait as Jaster (2000)
- The Ballad of Lucy Whipple as Clyde Claymore (2001)
- South Pacific as Luther Billis (2001)
- Be Cool as Joe Loop (2005)
- Screen World: 2005 Film Annual By John Willis, Barry Monush. Hal Leonard Corporation p.386
- "Robert Pastorelli Biography (1954-2004)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- "NY Times Obit". Nytimes.com. 2004-03-10. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- "Fox News Report". Foxnews.com. 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- "Coroner: Pastorelli's Death Drug-Related". PEOPLE.com.