Robert Joseph Pastorelli (June 21, 1954 – March 8, 2004) is an American actor known for having played the character of Eldin Bernecky on the 1990's TV sitcom Murphy Brown.

Early life Edit

Pastorelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Ledo Pastorelli, an insurance salesman and Dotty, an artist. He was of Albanian descent from Italy. His sister, Gwen Pastorelli, is an opera singer and a real estate agent.

Pastorelli was raised in Edison, New Jersey, and graduated from Edison High School in 1972. He initially intended a career as a professional boxer, but had to abandon the sport due to injuries sustained in a near-fatal high-speed car crash at the age of 19 (he later claimed that he had a "near death" experience at this time, and that he had experienced himself looking down from above upon his body in a hospital bed with his father at the bedside overcome with grief). Pastorelli acquired a narcotic habit in his early twenties prior to his acting career, which he overcame, but which he would relapse into throughout his later life.

Career Edit

In 1982 Pastorelli headed west to Los Angeles seeking opportunities in Hollywood. Spending the early 1980s employed in television bit-part appearances, he found a niche playing streetwise characters, appearing also in supporting roles in Outrageous Fortune (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). His first substantial film role came with Dances with Wolves (1990). His big break in television came in the role of the gruff but lovable house painter "Eldin Bernecky" on the series Murphy Brown, and he stayed with the show for seven seasons from 1988 to 1994. Murphy Brown producer Diane English was sufficiently impressed with his abilities that she worked with him to produce his first starring vehicle, the television sitcom Double Rush which lasted one season in 1995. Two years later, he starred in the American adaptation of the British detective series Cracker (1997–1999).

As his television career gained momentum Pastorelli's opportunities in cinema films increased: Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993); a career defining performance playing a demented serial killer in the 1993 murder mystery thriller Striking Distance, although the movie was not a commercial success; Eraser (1996), Michael (1996), and Modern Vampires(1998).

Death Edit

Pastorelli was found dead at his home in Hollywood Hills on March 8, 2004, from a narcotics overdose. At the time of his death, Pastorelli had been forewarned that authorities were planning on arresting him for further questioning. A review of the original evidence of the March 1999 shooting of his girlfriend Charemon Jonovich resulted in her cause of death being reclassified a homicide, and Pastorelli was identified as a prime suspect.

The Coroner's Office reported Pastorelli died of a "fatal blood concentration of morphine".

Pastorelli's body was interred in the mausoleum at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

External links Edit

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