Joseph Campanella, one of Hollywood’s most versatile character actors, has passed away at the age of 93. His career stretched from 1952 to 2009 and spanned nearly two hundred roles on TV and in film, as well as performances on stage. In a theatrical career that spanned nearly six decades, he naturally had several science fiction roles.
Variety reported that Campanella died at home, Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
In his long career, Joseph Campanella played priests (Father Corelli in The Invaders), detectives (Lew Wickersham in Mannix), doctors (Dr. Matthew Thorne in Batman: The Animated Series, Dr. Peter Alcott in Beauty and the Beast), and judges (Judge Joseph Camp in The Practice). He appeared in westerns, sit-coms, mysteries, soap operas, and Star Trek: Voyager.
Superhero fans may remember him as the voice of the Lizard in the ’90s cartoon Spider-Man. He was also Professor William Shepherd (the Master) in Road Rovers. He guest-starred in both Superboy and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Author, Author,” Campanella played a Federation arbitrator. He had been considered for the role of Kang in Star Trek: The Original Series, but that role went to Michael Ansara.
Campanella also appeared in several science fiction movies: Earthbound, Space Case, Hangar 18, Meteor, Ben, and Silent Running.
Joseph Campanella was born November 21, 1924, in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants. His father, Philip Campanella, was a member of the American Federation of Musicians, which led to Campanella’s lifelong support of liberal causes. His older brother, Frank Campanella (1919 – 2006), was also an actor. (He played Mook the Moon Man in Captain Video and his Video Rangers.) In WWII, Joseph Campanella joined the Navy. At the age of 18 he commanded a landing craft, making him one of the “youngest-ever skippers in the wartime navy”. He married singer/dancer Kathryn Jill Bartholomew in 1964; they had seven sons together.
In addition to his many acting roles, Campanella’s rich voice made him popular as a narrator. He narrated many PBS specials and the “Discover Magazine” TV series on the Disney Channel. He also hosted the educational series “Science International,” which was later syndicated as “What Will They Think of Next?”
Joseph Campanella died of complications of Parkinson’s disease in his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He is survived by his wife Jill Campanella, their seven sons, and eight grandchildren. May he rest in peace.