Joseph Gannascoli | News | Television

Sopranos actor John "Johnny Cakes" Costelloe Dead in Suicide


One more sad death to add to those over the Christmas holiday:

Costlloe"The front door to John Costelloe's Sunset Park home was still sealed with police stickers yesterday, more than a week after the rugged 47-year-old actor committed suicide. Costelloe, a former FDNY firefighter, shot himself in the head in his basement bedroom on Dec. 16, cops and pals said. 'It's beyond me. This is too much for me to handle right now,' the actor's dad, Michael Costelloe, 77, said yesterday. Firefighter and former colleague Matt Dwyer couldn't believe his friend was gone. 'He was a great guy. Everyone's completely in shock,' said Dwyer, 37, at Ladder 110 in Brooklyn. 'I saw him three weeks ago when he stopped by, and he seemed to be in good spirits.' Costelloe had a crucial four-episode arc on 'The Sopranos' in 2006, playing short-order cook Jim 'Johnny Cakes' Witowski. In the hit HBO series, actor Joseph Gannascoli - a longtime friend of Costelloe's - played mobster and closeted homosexual Vito Spatafore, who fled New Jersey after he was outed. While on the run in New Hampshire, Vito met Witowski, whose specialty was Johnny cakes, a cornmeal pancake. 'Sopranos' writers seemed to take a page from Costelloe's firefighting past and included it in the storyline. In the show, Vito became attracted to Johnny Cakes once he learned the short-order cook was a volunteer firefighter, before being whacked by his homophobic rivals."

At the time of his suicide, Costelloe was acting in the off-off-Broadway production of Gang of Seven, which, according to the Post: "had received sterling reviews - including two printed the day after he died."

A clip of Vito's storyline in which Costelloe appeared, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Absolutely disgusting. That people find this entertaining is so offensive.

    Posted by: nikko | Dec 29, 2008 12:56:37 PM

  2. I really admired this storyline. It was awesome to see really masculine and non glamour-model types of men in love on such a popular show. The whole self-loathing on Vito's part was unfortunate, but it made sense dramatically.

    Posted by: S | Dec 29, 2008 1:58:54 PM

  3. So sad. Just sad and horrible. But if it really is something that came on him all of a sudden out of character, I wonder if he'd been trying to stop smoking and was on the new drug "Chantix." It makes people want to off themselves, even those who were never suicidal before, I have had friends take it and tell me horror stories. Even so it is just so sad, nobody wins here. But if by chance he was on that drug then his death might raise awareness. - I do not want to piggyback a tragedy with personal issue advocacy, but since hearing about Chantix personally I have been more aware of and suspicious of the 'surprise suicide.' Just saying.

    Posted by: JamesR | Dec 30, 2008 4:01:14 AM

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