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Character actor Paul Picerni dies at 88

January 17, 2011 |  9:06 am

Paul Picerni Paul Picerni, 88, a prolific character actor who costarred in the television series "The Untouchables" and was featured in the 1953 horror movie "House of Wax," died Wednesday of a heart attack at his home in the Antelope Valley community of Llano, said his daughter, Maria Atkinson-Bates. He was pronounced dead at Palmdale Regional Medical Center.

Picerni portrayed Lee Hobson, a federal agent and sidekick to Eliot Ness, played by series star Robert Stack. "The Untouchables" ran on ABC from 1959 to 1963. Picerni joined the cast in its second season.

He was a familiar presence on television with appearances on such series as "Kojak," "Barnaby Jones," "Mannix" and "Perry Mason" and had roles dating to the mid-1940s.

Picerni was born Dec. 1, 1922, in Corona, N.Y. He was a bombardier during World War II and graduated with a bachelor's degree from Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1950, acting in several campus productions.

"House of Wax," which starred Vincent Price, was the first 3-D feature from a major studio, said writer Tom Weaver, who collaborated with Picerni on the 2007 book "Steps to Stardom: My Story." Picerni played Scott Andrews, a young sculptor who was the boyfriend of Sue Allen, played by Phyllis Kirk.

Picerni’s other films included "The Scalphunters" in 1968 and "Airport" in 1970. Picerni was the halftime master of ceremonies at Los Angeles Rams games at the Coliseum for 30 years.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Paul Picerni