Vito Scotti; Veteran Character Actor in Films and on TV

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vito Scotti, veteran character actor known as a man of a thousand faces for his ability to assume so many divergent roles on television and in films, has died. He was 78.

Scotti died of cancer June 5 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his daughter, Carmen Scozzari.

His ever-changing guise was familiar on several popular television series beginning in 1953, when he replaced J. Carroll Naish as the Italian immigrant Luigi Basco, who ran a Chicago antique store in "Life with Luigi."

Five years later, he played another ethnic character, Rama from India, in the live-action segment "Gunga Ram" on Andy Devine's children's show, "Andy's Gang."

Gifted in comedy and drama, Scotti also appeared frequently on "Gilligan's Island," "The Flying Nun" and "Columbo."

His big screen roles included Nazorine in "The Godfather" and the fussy Italian chef who surprisingly kissed Debbie Reynolds between her breasts when she ventured into his kitchen in "How Sweet It Is."

Scotti was the landlord in Alan Arkin and Carol Burnett's "Philly Flash" and the voice of a cat in "The Aristocats."

Among his other films were "Cry of the City," "Criss Cross," "Illegal Entry," "Stop That Cab," "The Hindu," "Party Girl," "Where the Boys Are," "The Pleasure Seekers," "Rio Conchos," "Von Ryan's Express," "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" "The Perils of Pauline," "The Secret War of Harry Frigg," "Cactus Flower," "Herbie Rides Again" and "Herbie Goes Bananas."

His last motion picture was "Get Shorty."

Scotti was a dedicated fund-raiser for the Carmen Fund, set up by the Joaquin Miller High School Parents Guild to assist the school's handicapped students in obtaining medical treatment. The fund was named for his daughter, one of the first patients to undergo pioneering spinal implant surgery.

In addition to his daughter, Scotti is survived by his wife, Beverly, son, Ricardo, and brother, Jerry.

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