Actor Julio Oscar Mechoso, who was known for his lengthy career in television and film passed away on Saturday. He was only 62 years old.
After a long and successful Hollywood career “playing gangsters, brutal cops and even demons, died of a heart attack Saturday at age 62,” reported the Miami Herald.
His death has elicited a strong response from Hollywood’s Hispanic actors and directors. The Herald says Mechoso was widely considered as a renaissance man of multiple talents.
“Julio was not just another actor,” said his friend, college classmate and frequent co-star Andy Garcia. “He was a supremely talented craftsman.”
Mechoso’s first TV role came shortly after graduating from Florida International Institute. He played a part on the Miami-made sitcom “¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.?”. Later, he would eventually appear in dozens of films and TV shows, from “Miami Vice” to “Seinfeld” to “Cane.”
He's also known for his roles in "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Legend of Zorro," and "Jurassic Park III."
“Possessed of a Medusa-like scowl and an intensity so fierce that he often burst into tears during table reads of scripts—friends teased him with the nickname lloracito, the little one who cries—Mechoso was stereotyped early in his career as a tough-guy character actor,” wrote the Herald.
When the now-defunct WB network began auditioning roles for their show “Greetings From Tuscon,” one of the first comedies featuring Hispanics since the days of Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy,” they didn’t want to let him read. its bosses didn’t want to let Mechoso read for a role.
“They told me, ‘This guy is a great gangster, but he has no comedy credits,’ ” recalled the show’s producer Peter Murrieta on Sunday. “I said, ‘That’s because there’s no Hispanic comedies, dudes.’ He came and he was hilarious playing this gruff Mexican-American dad, the funniest guy at the read by a mile. We cast him and he was great.”
While he may have surprised Hollywood with his range, he didn’t surprise his friends or family with his comedic timing.
“He was a very funny guy,” said his daughter Melinda. “He was an entertainer. If you look at his old school pictures from Miami, the people around him always have big smiles, because he’s doing something to make them laugh. He loved do that. He would never let anyone else talk at the dinner table — he had too many stories to tell.”
Mechoso’s performance during the single season of “Greetings From Tucson” vastly widened the range of roles available to him, but his first love remained drama. Born in Cuba and raised in Miami
Veteran producer Juan Carlos Coto also commented on Mechosos, who he cast in three TV series and worked with him in several others: “He was a utility player who could do anything, be a lead in a sitcom like ‘Greetings From Tucson’ and then a vicious Mexican narcotrafficker in ‘Kingpin’ and then a quirky demon who works part-time as a limo driver taking souls to Hell in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn.’ He played them all with such spirit and such life that you just couldn’t stop watching him.”
Please pray for his family as they deal with his unexpected loss. Fans of "The Patridge Family" are also mourning the loss of another member of the show.