Robert Pastorelli

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Robert Pastorelli
Robert Pastorelli.jpg
Robert Joseph Pastorelli

(1954-06-21)June 21, 1954
DiedMarch 8, 2004(2004-03-08) (aged 49)
Cause of deathMorphine overdose
Years active1982–2004
Partner(s)Charemon Jonovich
(b.1973–d. 1999)

Robert Joseph Pastorelli (June 21, 1954 – March 8, 2004) was an American actor.

After he acquired a reputation as a skilled character actor in the 1980s and 1990s, Pastorelli's career went into decline after the death of his girlfriend under mysterious circumstances at his home in 1999. He died of a narcotic overdose in 2004.[1] He was best known as Eldin in Murphy Brown (1988–1994), Johnny C. in Eraser (1996), and Hughey in Michael (1996).

Early life[edit]

Pastorelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Ledo ("Tally") Pastorelli (1918–2008),[2] an insurance salesman and Dorothy ("Dottie"; 1918–2008), an artist.[3][4] His sister, Gwen Pastorelli, is an opera singer and a real estate agent.[citation needed]

He spent his childhood years in Edison, New Jersey,[5] graduating from Edison High School in 1972. He initially intended a career as a professional boxer, but had to abandon the sport due to injuries sustained in a near-fatal high-speed car crash at the age of 19 (he later claimed that he had a "near death" incident at this time, and that he had experienced himself looking down from above upon his body in the hospital bed with his father at the bedside overcome with grief).[6] He acquired a narcotic habit in his early twenties prior to his acting career that he overcame, but he would relapse throughout his later life.

Theater career[edit]

He entered the acting profession via New York City theater in the late 1970s after studying at the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts and the Actors Studio, financially maintaining himself by working as a bartender. In 1977 he made his stage debut in a production of Rebel Without a Cause. He also performed in productions of The Rainmaker, and Death of a Salesman.[7] Later in his career he performed at London's South Bank theater in A Streetcar Named Desire in 2002.


In 1982 Pastorelli headed west to Los Angeles seeking opportunities in Hollywood. Spending the early 1980s employed in television bit-part appearances, he found a niche playing streetwise characters, appearing also in supporting roles in the cinema films Outrageous Fortune (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). His first substantial cinematic role came with Dances with Wolves (1990). His big break in television came with the role of the gruff but lovable house painter Eldin Bernecky on the series Murphy Brown, which was a ratings hit, and he stayed with the show for seven seasons from 1988 to 1994. Murphy Brown producer Diane English was sufficiently impressed with his abilities that she worked with him to produce his first starring vehicle, the television sitcom Double Rush which lasted one season in 1995. Two years later, he starred in the American adaptation of the British detective series Cracker (1997–1999).

As his television career gained momentum Pastorelli's opportunities in cinema roles increased: Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993); a career defining performance playing a demented serial killer in the 1993 murder mystery thriller Striking Distance (although the movie was not a commercial success); Eraser (1996), Michael (1996), and Modern Vampires (1998).[8]

Charemon Jonovich shooting[edit]

On the evening of March 15, 1999, during an incident at his Hollywood home, Pastorelli's 25-year-old girlfriend, Charemon Jonovich, was killed by a gunshot to the head. During the authorities' investigation that followed, Pastorelli testified that in the midst of an argument between the two of them, she suddenly produced a handgun and killed herself. The incident was investigated as an accident or suicide, and the Los Angeles Coroner's Office declared the cause of death undetermined.[9]

Final years[edit]

Pastorelli was exonerated of responsibility for Charemon Jonovich's death and received public expressions of sympathy within Hollywood and from the Los Angeles media, but his career went into noticeable decline afterwards. He appeared in two more cinema productions in small roles in the early 2000s as well as some minor supporting roles in television productions. He developed a friendship with Glenn Close towards the end of his career, and appeared alongside her in the television films The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, and in South Pacific in 2001.[10] In 2002 he again appeared alongside her at London's Royal National Theatre in a performance of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.[11] In 2002 he co-founded the Garden State Film Festival. His posthumous final screen appearance was in the movie Be Cool (2005).


Pastorelli was found dead at the age of 49 at his home in the Hollywood Hills on March 8, 2004, from a narcotics overdose.[12] At the time of his death he had been forewarned that authorities were planning on arresting him for further questioning regarding the shooting of Charemon Jonovich in March 1999. A review of the original evidence had resulted in her death being reclassified as a homicide, with Pastorelli being identified as a suspect for further investigation.[12] The Coroner's Office reported Pastorelli died of a "fatal blood concentration of morphine".[13] Pastorelli's body was interred in the mausoleum at Saint Catharine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

Personal life[edit]

Pastorelli had two daughters, Gianna Li Pastorelli (born February 6, 1998) with Charemon Jonovich, and Giannina Marie Pastorelli (born March 6, 2000) with his then-girlfriend, Jalee Carder.



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Outrageous Fortune Dealer #2
1987 Beverly Hills Cop 2 Vinnie
1988 Memories of Me Al "Broccoli"
1990 Dances with Wolves Timmons
1992 FernGully: The Last Rainforest Tony Voice Role
1992 The Paint Job Willie
1992 Folks! Fred
1993 Striking Distance Jimmy Detillo
1993 Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Joey Bustamente
1996 Eraser Johnny C
1996 Michael Huey Driscoll
1997 A Simple Wish Oliver
1998 Scotch and Milk The Skipper
1998 Heist T-Bone
2000 Bait Jaster
2005 Be Cool Joe Loop Posthumous release


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Barney Miller Edward Guthrie "Altercation"
1982–1983 Cagney & Lacey Rosen / Cop #2 2 episodes
1983 St. Elsewhere Danny Christiano "Graveyard"
1983 Tucker's Witch Stanley "Murder Is the Key"
1983 Diner Turko TV Movie
1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Adler "The Black Widow"
1983 Knight Rider Leroy "Custom K.I.T.T."
1983–1985 Hill Street Blues Bobby Stellin / Jimmy Frumento 2 episodes
1983–1985 Newhart Biker / Prisoner 2 episodes
1984 I Married a Centerfold Guard TV Movie
1984 T.J. Hooker 2nd Rapist – Dancer "The Confession"
1985 Simon & Simon Ken "Almost Foolproof"
1985 Hunter Willie Wakefield "The Avenging Angel"
1985 Berrenger's Bernie "Hidden Agenda"
1985 California Girls Mechanic TV Movie
1985 Braker Forensic Specialist TV Movie
1985 Santa Barbara Cabbie "#1.238"
1985 The Twilight Zone Man (segment "Dead Woman's Shoes") "Dead Woman's Shoes / Wong's Lost and Found Emporium"
1985 The A-Team Juarez's Hechman "There Goes the Neighborhood"
1985–1986 Mary Mr. Yummy 2 episodes
1985–1986 Remington Steele Weasel 2 episodes
1986 Too Close for Comfort Vic Paradies "Monroe's Critical Condition"
1986 Throb The Host "Bus of Dreams"
1987 Miami Vice Vespa "Down for the Count" Part 2"
1987 MacGyver Arnie "Out in the Cold"
1987 Hands of a Stranger Handyman TV Movie
1987 The Spirit Uncredited TV Movie
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Vinnie Vingo "Sons of Gunz"
1987 Private Eye Villanova "Blue Movie"
1987 The Law and Harry McGraw Louie The Lip Birdsall "Rappaport's Back in Town"
1987 Night Court Lorenzo Amador "Let It Snow"
1987–1988 Beauty and the Beast Vick Ramos / Tony Perotta 2 episodes
1988 Lady Mobster Matteo Villani TV Movie
1988 My Sister Sam Robert Celli "It's My Party and I'll Kill If I Want To"
1988–1998 Murphy Brown Eldin Bernecky series regular (158 episodes)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (1995)[14]
1991 An Evening at the Improv Himself (Host) "#8.4"
1993 Basic Values: Sex, Shock & Censorship in the 90's Jesus (segment "The Last Supper") TV Movie
1993 Harmful Intent Devil O'Shea TV Movie
1994 The Yarn Princess Jake Thomas TV Movie
1994 Batman: The Animated Series Manny (Voice Role) "Riddler's Reform"
1995 The West Side Waltz Sookie Cerullo TV Movie
1995 Double Rush Johnny Verona series regular (13 episodes)
1997 Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special Sergeant Louie (Voice Role) TV Movie
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Sergeant Louie (Voice Role) "Mother Goose"
1997–1999 Cracker: Mind Over Murder Gerry "Fitz" Fitzgerald recurring character (16 episodes)
1998 Modern Vampires The Count TV Movie
2001 The Ballad of Lucy Whipple Clyde Claymore TV Movie
2001 South Pacific Luther Billis TV Movie
2002 Women vs. Men Nick TV Movie
2002 Touched by an Angel Joe Collette "A Rock and a Hard Place"
2003 Partners in Crime Unknown Role TV Movie
2003 Hack Lewis Bernard "Blind Faith"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Screen World: 2005 Film Annual By John Willis, Barry Monush. Hal Leonard Corporation p.386
  2. ^ "Ledo J. "Tally" Pastorelli (1918-2008) - Find A".
  3. ^ "Robert Pastorelli Biography (1954–2004)". Archived from the original on 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  4. ^ "Dorothy M. Pastorelli Obituary (2008) MyCentralJersey".
  5. ^ Armstrong, Lois. "In the Kitchen With...Robert Pastorelli; After Leaving Murphy Brown, the Man Who Played Eldin the Painter Returns to a Familiar Role (well, Sort Of) as a Celebrity Chef", People (magazine), June 27, 1994. Accessed April 4, 2016. "His mom provided the recipe for zucchini parmigiana, one of Bobby's favorites when he was growing up in Edison, N.J."
  6. ^ "Robert Pastorelli, 49, Actor On 'Murphy Brown' TV Series". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 10, 2004. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  7. ^ Obituary for Pastorelli, 'Los Angeles Times', 10 March 2004.
  8. ^ Entry for Pastorelli's career in IMDb website (2019).
  9. ^ "Girlfriend of "Murphy's" Pastorelli Kills Herself". New York Post. March 17, 1999.
  10. ^ "Busy Glenn Close Stars in new South Pacific". Us Weekly. March 26, 2001. Archived from the original on April 22, 2022.
  11. ^ "A Streetcar Named Desire – Review". Variety. October 9, 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Fox News Report". 2005-02-07. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 'Murphy Brown star was murder suspect'.
  13. ^ "Coroner: Pastorelli's Death Drug-Related". Report 4 August 2004.
  14. ^ "Robert Pastorelli". Television Academy. Retrieved 2022-02-13.

External links[edit]