Robert Joseph Pastorelli (June 21, 1954 – March 8, 2004) was an American actor.
Pastorelli acquired a reputation as a skilled character actor in the 1980s and 1990s in films such as Outrageous Fortune (1987), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Dances with Wolves (1990), Eraser (1996), and Michael (1996).
His big break in television came in the role of the ‘gruff but lovable’ house painter "Eldin Bernecky" on the series Murphy Brown, and he stayed with the show for seven seasons from 1988 to 1994.
Sadly, Pastorelli's career went into decline after the death of his girlfriend under mysterious circumstances at his home in 1999. He died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2004. Pastorelli, then aged 49, had previously battled heroin addiction and had been depressed since the suicide of his girlfriend, Charemon Jonovich.
Why is he on the site? Because on June 21, 1973, at the age of 19, Pastorelli had a near-fatal car accident which led to a near-death experience that literally changed how he was living, in a very dramatic way. He describes it in the observation we have provided.
Pastorelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Ledo Pastorelli, an insurance salesman and Dotty, an artist. His sister, Gwen Pastorelli, is an opera singer and a real estate agent.
Pastorelli was raised in Edison, New Jersey, and graduated from Edison High School in 1972. He initially intended a career as a professional boxer, but had to abandon the sport due to the injuries sustained in the near-fatal high-speed car crash mentioned above.
Pastorelli entered acting via New York City theatre in the late 1970s, after studying at the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts and the Actors Studio, whilst financially maintaining himself working as a bar-tender. He made his stage debut in 1977 in a production of Rebel Without a Cause. He also performed in productions of The Rainmaker, and Death of a Salesman. Later in his career he performed at London's South Bank theatre 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 Outrageous Fortune (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). His first substantial film role came with Dances with Wolves (1990). His big break in television came in his role in the series Murphy Brown. 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 films 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; Eraser (1996), Michael (1996), and Modern Vampires (1998).
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. 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 the actress Glenn Close towards the end of his career and appeared alongside her in the television films The Ballad of Lucy Whipple and South Pacific in 2001. The next year he again appeared alongside her at London's Royal National Theatre in a performance of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. In 2002 he co-founded the Garden State Film Festival. His posthumous final screen appearance was in the movie Be Cool (2005).
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.
Pastorelli was found by his assistant at his home in Hollywood, CA on March 8, 2004. On March 9, 2004 the toxicology report confirmed "acute cocaine, morphine (heroin) toxicity."
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- 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)
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