"Well, most people like it and I like it, and I'm working hard and trying to keep the cost down"

J. Russell Finch CEO & President
The Pacific Edible Seaweed Company
Fresno, CA.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Vito Scotti

    Born on this day in 1918 was the very talented and wonderfully funny character actor Vito Scotti. Probably best known for his role in THE GODFATHER as the baker who asks Marlon Brando for a favor before his daughters wedding in that film's memorable opening sequence, he appeared in literally hundreds of movies and TV shows playing various maniacal ethnic characters - but always with a smile & humorous glint in his eye (and never failing to make you smile).
  Most of his work was on TV (think of a series in the 60's & 70's and there's a good chance he's on it), but also appeared in some small (but well remembered) roles as the locomotive engineer in VON RYAN'S EXPRESS (1965) & as the Italian tank driver in The Monkees HEAD (1968) among others. He passed away June 5 1996 at the age of 78.
   In addition he also appeared in four of the best remembered episodes of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND including playing a confused WWII Japanese sailor in two episodes (although justifiably considered "Un-PC" in today's world, he's still uproariously funny in these) and the arched eyebrow mad scientist Dr. Boris Balinkoff in the other two. In the season 2/ep. 29 THE FRIENDLY PHYSICIAN as Balinkoff he's joined by the great Mike Mazurki (playing his assistant "Igor"). Directed by Jack Arnold, the episode is unique in that its the only one where the castaways actually leave the island as Scotti takes them to his creepy island castle (which is represented by that classic matte painting from several Corman films) to preform brain switching experiments on them.

   Scotti is laugh out loud funny in his over the top portrayal and most people tend to forget that the series at times contained some very witty dialogue ("You must be one of those crazy doctors who voted for Medicare !"). As a young monster movie fan I remember being intrigued by the horror elements and as a young male I also remember being intrigued by the sight of Mary Ann and Ginger chained up in a dungeon.


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