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 Joseph V De Santis

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Joseph V De Santis

  • Birth 15 Jun 1909 Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Death 30 Aug 1989 Provo, Utah County, Utah, USA
  • Burial Covina, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Constant Peace, Lot 6597, Space 1
  • Memorial ID 25071410

Actor and sculptor. Joe DeSantis was born Joseph Vito Marcello DeSantis on 15 June 1909, to Italian immigrant parents in New York City. His father was a tailor and his mother worked in a paper flower factory. DeSantis attended public schools in New York City, and then worked his way through the City College of New York, studying sculpture and drama. He studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and was apprenticed to Onorio Ruotolo at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design from 1927 to 1929. From 1936 to 1940 he taught sculpting at the Henry Street Settlement and the YMHA at 92nd St. in New York City. His first dramatic performances were in Italian. After obtaining a part in a play at Hunter College, he secured work as an actor for three seasons with the Walter Hampden Repertory Company, which marked the beginning of his performances in English. His career in broadcasting began in May of 1940 with 'Pepper Young's Family', and continued with major network shows including 'Mr. District Attorney', 'March of Time', 'Gangbusters', 'Kate Smith', and many others. One of his most important contributions to the industry was his narration of Norman Corwin's 'On a Note of Triumph' , broadcast nationwide at the conclusion of World War II. He was inducted into the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters' Diamond Circle in 1985. During his early years he also did numerous Italian-language broadcasts. Joe also made several contributions to 'Remember Radio', a column in one of the trade publications of the day. With the advent of television, DeSantis became known as a skilled character actor who could play convincing dialect characters, mugs, suave heavies and emotional leads. He was extremely active in early television, taking featured roles on several Playhouse 90 and Studio One productions, and appearing regularly on the Red Buttons, Martha Raye and Sid Caesar shows. In addition to many single performances on other TV series, Joe had a recurring presence in such shows as 'The Untouchables', '77 Sunset Strip', 'Gunsmoke' and 'Bonanza'. DeSantis also played in numerous movies. The high point of his career came in 1962 with Cold Wind in August, and he also featured in 'I Want to Live', 'Al Capone', 'The Brotherhood', and 'Contract on Cherry Street', a made-for-TV movie starring Frank Sinatra. Joe was an active member of the Players' Club in New York, and the Masquers' Club in Los Angeles. Sculpting was DeSantis' first and lasting love. An article in the New York Post from June 2, 1937 describes his early efforts to make a living as a sculptor, but ultimately he ended up sculpting for its own sake and making his living as an actor. Still, he pursued his avocation and became an excellent portrait artist - he later saw a commission placed in the Smithsonian Aeronautics and Space museum and several other pieces placed with various institutions which were grateful to receive them. His later work was done in Provo, Utah, where he had retired in order to be close to family. Upon his death, the bulk of his work was donated to the Brigham Young University Fine Arts Museum, the University of Utah's Utah Museum of Art, the Salt Lake Art Center, and the Springville Art Museum. Other pieces are in private hands, and some have been lost or destroyed. In 1935 Joe married Miriam Moss, an actress; they had one son, David, and later divorced. In 1949 he married Margaret Draper, also an actress, whom he met while both were playing parts on Pepper Young's Family. They had one son, Christopher, and divorced in 1956, at which time Joe moved to California to pursue his work in television and films. In 1959 he married Wanda Slye who preceded him in death in 1977.

Cause of death: chronic obstructive lung disease.

Bio by: ccdesan

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: ccdesan
  • Added: 4 Mar 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25071410
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph V De Santis (15 Jun 1909–30 Aug 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25071410, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Covina Hills), Covina, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .