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Nicholas Colasanto 1924-1985
 


Country : Providence, Rhode Island
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1924-01-19
Date of death : 1985-02-12
Cause of Death : Heart failure

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Nicholas Colasanto (January 19, 1924 - February 12, 1985) was an American actor, known primarily for his role as Coach Ernie Pantusso on the long-running sitcom Cheers. He also appeared in feature films which include Fat City, Family Plot, and Raging Bull.

A decorated veteran of World War II, he also directed various television series, such as Hawaii Five-O, Columbo, Starsky and Hutch and CHiPs. He attended Bryant University, now located in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Colasanto directed two episodes of Columbo: "√Čtude in Black", starring John Cassavetes as conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and "Swan Song", starring Johnny Cash as a murdering country and western singer. At one point, during the episode, Cash's character refers to his (unseen) colleague "Nick Solacanto". This is an example of a Spoonerism.

Colasanto died of a heart ailment on February 12, 1985 at the age of 61, just as Cheers was achieving its greatest success. He was never replaced on Cheers. Instead Cheers hired Woody Harrelson to play the low IQ-ed Woody Boyd. After his death, Colasanto's presence on the show was represented by the placing of a picture of Geronimo on the wall of the show's primary set. The photo had previously hung in Colasanto's dressing room and was said to hold a special meaning to the actor. The picture remained on the set for the rest of the series' run.

Coach died shortly after the filming of episode 22 ("Cheerio, Cheers") of season 3. However, he appears (albeit rarely) in episodes following this and in the title credits up to the final episode of season 3. This was achieved by using outtakes from previous episodes.

Eight years after Colasanto's death, the show offered a subtle but important nod to him in its final scene: star Ted Danson walks up to and straightens the Geronimo picture before walking off stage for the last time.

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