Jay Novello (August 22, 1904 – September 2, 1982) was an American radio, film, and television character actor.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, as Michael Romano, of Italian descent, Novello began his career as a radio actor, having played Jack Packard on the Hollywood version of I Love a Mystery for a brief period in the middle 1940s. He usually put his suave, cultured voice and dexterity at accents to use in supporting roles, often of an ethnic nature. He was heard regularly on Rocky Jordan, (as Cairo police captain Lt. Sam Sabaaya), the radio version of The Lone Wolf (as Jamison the butler), and the long-running serial One Man's Family(as Judge Glenn Hunter). He was also heard on Escape, Crime Classics, Lux Radio Theater, Suspense, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, among others.
In film, Novello alternated between pompous or fussy professionals and assorted ethnic roles, often as Italian or Hispanic characters. One of his earliest and more familiar film appearances is in the 1945 Laurel and Hardy comedy The Bullfighters, in which Novello plays a Latin restaurateur. Though prolific in the movies, Novello was limited mostly to bits in minor films, one of his more noteworthy assignments being the officious Spanish consul in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles.
Besides several appearances on CBS's I Love Lucy, Novello guest starred on a 1952 episode of CBS's espionage drama Biff Baker, U.S.A., starring Alan Hale, Jr. He appeared too on NBC's Northwest Passage series, based on the work of Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War. He appeared with James Best, John Dehner, and Paul Richards in 1956 on NBC's western anthology series Frontier in the episode "The Texicans". About this time, he also guest starred in Brian Keith's first series, Crusader, a Cold War drama which aired on CBS. He was cast in a 1955 episode as Andre in "Sock Plays Cupid" of Jackie Cooper's NBC sitcom, The People's Choice.
In 1957, he guest starred in Frank Lovejoy's NBC detective series, The Adventures of McGraw, initially titled Meet McGraw.In 1958, he was cast in five episodes as Juan Greco on ABC's Zorro, with Guy Williams.
Novello guest starred in episodes of two ABC sitcoms, The Donna Reed Show as Nick Melinas in "The Love Letter" (1960) and on The Real McCoys, in which he plays the fiance of Gladys Purvis (Lurene Tuttle), the widowed mother of Kate McCoy (Kathleen Nolan). At first the Novello character clashes with Grandpa Amos McCoy (Walter Brennan), but the two are reconciled over a game of horseshoes.
In 1957 and 1960, Novello appeared in two episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston. He also appeared in the ABC/WB detective series, Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan. He guest starred as Beanie in the 1958 episode "Arson" of David Janssen's CBS crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective.
He appeared in the syndicated crime drama, Johnny Midnight, starring Edmond O'Brien. Novello guest starred twice on CBS's The Andy Griffith Show, as the main character in the episode entitled "Guest of Honor" and as an opportunist lawyer in "Otis Sues the County". He secured an early guest spot on the television incarnation of Gangbusters as famed bank robber Willie Sutton. He was a regular on ABC's McHale's Navy as the con artist Mayor Mario Lugatto of Volta Fiore, Italy.
He appeared in the episode of Climax!, Escape From Fear, and had a recurring role on Zorro as Juan Greco. Novello also appeared in several episodes of ABC's Lawman, with John Russell and Peter Brown. He was cast as Guido Morales in the 1960 episode "Unsurrendered Sword" of another ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.
He died in 1982 at the age of seventy-eight and is interred in Los Angeles, California, at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.