Joe DeSantis

Show Count: 83
Series Count: 3
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Old Time Radio
Born: June 15, 1909, New York City, New York, USA
Died: August 30, 1989, Provo, Utah, USA

Joseph Vito DeSantis (June 15, 1909 - August 30, 1989) was an American radio, television, movie and theatrical actor and sculptor.


Joe De Santis was born Joseph Vito Marcello De Santis to Italian immigrant parents in New York City. His father, Pasquale De Santis, was a tailor from San Pietro Apostolo in Catanzaro, Italy; his mother, Maria Paoli, emigrated from Gioviano in the province of Lucca inTuscany and worked in a paper flower factory. He worked his way through New York University studying sculpture and drama, his first performances being in Italian. After obtaining a part in a play at Hunter College, he secured work as an actor for three seasons with theWalter Hampden Repertory Company, which marked the beginning of his performances in the English language. His career in broadcasting began on radio in May 1940 with Pepper Young's Family and continued with major network shows including Mr. District Attorney, The March of Time, Gangbusters, and The Kate Smith Show. 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. On May 17, 1985, De Santis was inducted into the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Diamond Circle. During his early years he also did numerous Italian-language broadcasts. He made several contributions to "Remember Radio", a column in one of the trade publications.

With the advent of television, Joe became known as a skilled character actor who could play convincing dialect characters, mugs, suave heavies and emotional leads. He was active in such early television series as Playhouse 90, Studio One, Sheriff of Cochise, and he appeared regularly on the programs of Red Buttons, Martha Raye and Sid Caesar shows. In addition to many single performances on other series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Joe had a recurring presence in such shows as The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible, and in the westerns such as Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. One of his choicest moments came while playing a role with Frank Sinatra, a performer whom he greatly admired, on a made-for-TV movie, Contract on Cherry Street. At one point during the filming, Sinatra remarked to De Santis, "You should have played The Godfather." De Santis cherished this comment to the end of his days.

In 1960, De Santis was cast as Juan Cortilla, a Mexican bandit, in the episode "Chicota Landing" of the NBC western series,Riverboat. Richard Chamberlain was cast as United States Army Lt. Dave Winslow. In the story line, Cortilla is stormed from jail, and Winslow enlists series lead character Grey Holden (Darren McGavin) to transport Cortilla and his men to a military garrison. Instead, Cortilla takes over Holden's vessel, the Enterprise and its gunpowder. Connie Hines portrays Lucy Bridges in this episode, and Ted de Corsia is cast with De Santis as another bandit.

De Santis played in numerous films; the high point of his career came in 1962 with Cold Wind in August. He was also featured in I Want to Live! and The Brotherhood. De Santis was an active member of the Players' Club in New York City, and the Masquers' Club inLos Angeles, California.

In 1935, De Santis married Miriam Moss, an actress; they had one son 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 by this marriage 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.

De Santis retired to Provo, Utah in 1978 to be close to family, and resided there until his death in 1989. Along with sculpting, he contributed regularly to the activities of the Provo Eldred Center. He was a heavy smoker for much of his life and suffered from chronic bronchitis and borderline emphysema; he died in 1989 at the age of eighty of chronic obstructive lung disease.

Offbeat Trivia: In the liner notes to Frank Zappa's first album, Freak Out, one finds "These People Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What it is. Please Do Not Hold it Against them." De Santis' name is listed along with many others. An explanation for this can be found in an interview [1] with Carl Franzoni, a vocalist for whom the first song on that album, Hungry Freaks, Daddy was written. Franzoni and Zappa were acquainted with Vito Paulekas, a sculptor and dancer and the L.A. freak scene guru in the early sixties. Apparently certain movie stars, De Santis included, would come to Vito's studio to sculpt, and somehow something about Joe stuck in Zappa's mind.

Source: Wikipedia

Broadcast: May 20, 1947
Added: Apr 28 2023
Broadcast: 26th May 1957
Added: Feb 18 2011
Broadcast: 1st April 1974
Added: Oct 27 2012
Broadcast: 5th May 1957
Added: Mar 31 2011
Broadcast: 17th November 1957
Added: Nov 18 2011
Broadcast: 14th September 1958
Added: Sep 08 2011
Broadcast: 2nd June 1957
Added: May 18 2012
Broadcast: 1st May 1949
Added: Aug 29 2009
Broadcast: 19th October 1950
Added: Oct 01 2012
Broadcast: 13th November 1947
Added: Oct 18 2005
Broadcast: 31st July 1943
Added: Nov 15 2010
Broadcast: 14th December 1958
Added: Sep 30 2011
Broadcast: 27th January 1957
Added: Feb 07 2010
Broadcast: 8th January 1949
Added: Jan 19 2010
Broadcast: 24th March 1957
Added: Nov 11 2012
Broadcast: 12th January 1958
Added: May 18 2012
Broadcast: 24th January 1954
Added: Jan 20 2007
Broadcast: 9th February 1958
Added: Feb 10 2008
Broadcast: 1st November 1948
Added: Nov 08 2008
Broadcast: June 2nd 1954
Added: Feb 09 2014
Broadcast: 11th January 1959
Added: Feb 10 2011
Broadcast: October 31st 1954
Added: Mar 03 2014
Broadcast: 16th February 1958
Added: Mar 12 2009
Broadcast: 16th November 1955
Added: Nov 14 2005
Broadcast: 8th September 1957
Added: Sep 29 2012
Broadcast: 3rd March 1957
Added: Mar 04 2010
Broadcast: 18th January 1959
Added: Apr 25 2011
Broadcast: 24th March 1957
Added: May 17 2012
Broadcast: 22nd November 1959
Added: Dec 03 2011
Broadcast: 14th April 1957
Added: Apr 07 2011
Broadcast: 14th December 1955
Starring: Joe DeSantis
Added: Dec 20 2004
Broadcast: 7th December 1958
Added: Dec 05 2010
Broadcast: 11th November 1951
Added: Nov 17 2011
Broadcast: 9th October 1974
Added: Feb 12 2010
Broadcast: 11th October 1958
Added: Oct 11 2008
Broadcast: May 8, 1949
Added: Feb 10 2020
Broadcast: 14th March 1949
Starring: Joe DeSantis
Added: Jun 13 2004
Broadcast: 13th April 1958
Added: Apr 16 2011
Broadcast: June 30, 1957
Added: Oct 24 2010
Broadcast: December 17, 1961
Added: Dec 17 2011