Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store (or the brand new downtown location) on your way out and pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks!

Vito Scotti

(Jan. 26, 1918 - June 5, 1996)

May 25, 2010 -- Vito Scotti appeared in everything from "Gilligan's Island" to "The Godfather," and if you watched television at any time during the past 50 years, you've certainly seen him. Although you might not recognize the popular character actor's name, you'd certainly recognize his face. Or at least a few of them.

Scotti was short with wavy black hair, a neatly groomed mustache, dark twinkling eyes and a smiling, energetic disposition. He appeared in supporting roles in more than 60 films, and an equal number of television appearances. Though he usually played Italian characters, he also played Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Indian, Arab, Gypsy and Native American roles -- just about any ethnicity.

Scotti was born in San Francisco, but he spent his early years living in Naples, Italy, before moving back to the United States. His mother was a star in the Italian theater in New York City, and Scotti was exposed to performing at an early age. Scotti trained with improvisational comedy groups in New York City and began his career working in nightclubs as a comedian, magician and mime.

After serving in World War II, Scotti made his film debut in "Illegal Entry" (1949), in an uncredited role as a Mexican youth. For the next 40 years, Scotti played an assortment of hotel clerks, doormen, cooks and other character roles, including the train engineer in "Von Ryan's Express" (1965); Senor Sanchez in "Cactus Flower" (1969); Nazorine, the pastry shop owner in "The Godfather" (1972); and the restaurant manager in "Get Shorty" (1995), his last film role.

But Scotti is probably best remembered for his work in television. Among his more memorable roles were artist Vito Giotto in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (he insisted on painting the Petries' walls -- "Give me your walls!" -- but never seems to get around to actually doing it), the bumbling Police Capt. Gaspar Formento in "The Flying Nun," and Dr. Marcovich in "The Monkees." As the sign of a truly successful and versatile character actor, Scotti often played different roles on different episodes of the same series, including three different characters in "The Addams Family," four characters in "Gunsmoke," four characters in "The Rifleman" and five characters in "Columbo."

Other than the seven castaways, Scotti was also the most frequent inhabitant of "Gilligan's Island," appearing in four episodes of the series. Scotti also appeared in episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show," "Batman," "Bewitched," "The Bionic Woman," "Bonanza," "Charles in Charge," "CHiPs," "The Farmer's Daughter," "Get Smart," "The Golden Girls," "Happy Days," "Hawaii Five-0," "Hogan’s Heroes," "Mad About You," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "My Favorite Martian," "Perry Mason," "Police Woman," "Rawhide," "The Virginian" and "Who’s The Boss?"

Scotti was also highly regarded as a chef, using the recipes from his mother and grandmother, and was also a dedicated fundraiser for the Carmen Fund, set up by the Joaquin Miller High School Parents Guild in Reseda, Calif., to assist the school's special-needs students in obtaining medical treatment. The fund was named after Scotti's daughter, who was one of the first patients to undergo pioneering spinal implant surgery.

Scotti died of lung cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif., on June 5, 1996, at the age of 78. He is buried in the Abby of the Psalms at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with his first wife, Irene.

Previous Grave Spotlights

Back to main page