A television and stage actor and Tony-winning producer who was known as “the king of the voice-overs” has died. The New York Times reports that Joe Sirola died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 89.
Sirola, whose prolific TV career included a run as the family patriarch on the short-lived 1970s NBC sitcom “The Montefuscos,” reportedly died of respiratory failure.
He was also a regular on the Bill Bixby series “The Magician” in the 1970s. But even with countless appearances in TV shows and feature films, his bread and butter was his work as a voice-over pitchman in commercials for gasoline, meat, rental cars and just about everything else.
“Mr. Sirola was a show-business jack-of-all-trades, acting on Broadway, in small theaters, on television soap operas and dramas, in the occasional movie; he even produced on and Off Broadway late in life,” The Times reports. “Along the way he befriended fellow showbiz personalities large and small. When he’d tell stories about, say, his drinking buddy Richard Burton (which he would do often; he was a first-class raconteur), he’d do it with a pretty good Burton impression.”
The report adds: “That vocal flexibility made him far richer than a journeyman actor could ever hope to be. In the 1960s he began doing voice-over work, and he soon found himself in high demand. A 1971 article about him said he could be heard in 40 different commercials at that time and speculated that Americans who listened to the radio or watched TV probably heard his voice every single day.”
Sirola won a Tony in 2014 for producing the musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that he was also nominated the previous year for producing a revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” starring Cicely Tyson.
Here’s a short tour of Sirola’s New York City garden — and a quick glimpse of his apartment, along with a fun taste of Sirola’s personality — posted by Sirola in 2012 …