March 11, 2004 by

Robert Pastorelli

68 comments

Categories: Actors, Hollywood

rpastorelli.jpg Robert Joseph Pastorelli, the Emmy-nominated actor who played Eldin Bernecky on the TV show “Murphy Brown,” died on March 8 of an accidental heroin overdose. He was 49.

A New Jersey native, Pastorelli was an aspiring boxer in his youth. On his 19th birthday, however, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident that ended his boxing career. He studied drama at the Actors Studio and the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts, then spent part of his 20s living in a car and working as a bartender to support himself between acting gigs.

Pastorelli made his theatrical debut in a 1977 production of “Rebel Without a Cause.” He later acted in stage versions of “The Rainmaker,” “Death of a Salesman” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” His big break came in 1982 when he landed a guest appearance on “Barney Miller.” He made his film debut five years later as Dealer #2 in “Outrageous Fortune,” and followed it with roles in “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Dances With Wolves” and “Michael.”

In 1988, Pastorelli landed the role of Eldin, Murphy Brown’s handsome house painter and friend, on the CBS sitcom. For the next six seasons, he colored Murphy’s walls, watched her baby and dispensed advice on how she should live her life. He earned an Emmy nomination for the role, but bowed out of the series when its creator, Diane English, left the show.

Pastorelli spent the past decade acting in two to three TV and film projects a year. Last month, he finished shooting “Be Cool,” the sequel to “Get Shorty.”

[Update, Feb. 9, 2005: Police now say that at the time of Pastorelli’s death, he was a suspect in his girlfriend’s murder. Charemon Jonovich, 25, was found shot in the head inside the actor’s Hollywood Hills home in 1999. Her death was initially investigated as an accident or suicide, but the Los Angeles coroner later changed the official cause of death to “homicide.”]

68 Responses to Robert Pastorelli

  1. Jason Tippitt

    I never watched “Murphy Brown,” so Robert Pastorelli first came on my radar in the American remake of the British crime drama “Cracker.” ABC only aired about nine of the 16 episodes completed before its cancellation. It wasn’t as strong a series as the original, but Pastorelli did a great job of Americanizing the tormented character originally brought to life by Robbie Coltrane. He never got the fame he deserved, but he’ll be missed.

  2. Jackie

    I enjoyed watching Robert Pastorelli on Murphy Brown. His was one of those faces that you remember but never knew the name. It’s such a shame that his passing is shrouded in such mystery and controversy. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and many fans.

  3. Carrie

    It was such a shock to hear of Robert Pastorelli’s death…I still can’t get over the fact that he’s dead. It just doesn’t seem real to me. I have had the biggest crush on him since the days of “Murphy Brown” and have followed his career since then. I now live in New Brunswick, NJ, and had grown up in the early ’80s in Edison. He was talented, funny and very handsome in a burlish sort of way. My condolences and best wishes go out to his friends and family…especially his daughter, Gianna, who is now parentless.

  4. Anne Beatty

    If it’s possible to fall in love with an actor, I fell in love with Robert Pastorelli. He was such a charismatic and unique actor and person. Off hand I can think of no other actor to replace him.

  5. Ann-Mari Jacobson

    I loved Robert Pastorelli and can’t believe he is dead. I keep hoping it’s all a horrible mistake, but I know that’s wishful thinking. I hope he knew how much he was loved by so many. He didn’t get the respect he deserved as a dramatic actor and now we will never see anything new he will star in again. It’s a good thing I have taped most everthing he has done on TV and movies shown on the tube. My heart goes out to his family and friends who were fortunate enough to know him in person. I wish I had.

  6. Man Cort

    I met him in 98. He was the coolest dude. I could tell he was headed the wrong way then, but still he was alright. He shared his stash with me and my buddy and we hit a bunch of stripclubs on his dime. Good Times. Good Times.

  7. ron

    There is no tribute for a loser who ended his life using heroin and killing his girlfriend. Good riddance loser. See ya in hell.

  8. Sandi Grace

    I loved Robert Pastorelli and no actor will take his place,ever. He will be sorely missed and my prayers go out to his little daughter now.

  9. Tory B

    Does anyone even know that he has another daughter? Her name is Giannina Marie and she turned 4 on the day he died. She is a beautiful little girl who has not been acknowledged once in any of his tributes/articles. It is a shame that she will only remember him by reading articles that don’t even mention her existence. I am ashamed of Bobby and his family!!

  10. maria

    My heart is broken. One of the truly nice guys in the industry is gone forever. Its hard to believe. He was so good at being whatever he was cast to be and that’s a true gift. Every time he was interviewed he was personable, friendly and genuinely warm and it came across to the viewers. His presence, warm smile and wry sense of humor will be sorely missed. Personally I will always remember him. My condolences to his family.

  11. Tracy

    I just saw a movie over the weekend with Robert Pastorelli in it – it also starred Martin Short as a fairygodmother – anyway I remembered how much I enjoyed him as an actor – how sad to learn of his passing…such a loss.

  12. JOAN FLOWERS

    DEAR DAUGHTER OF ROBERT PASTORELLI
    DEAR GIANNINA MARIE
    FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON YOUR MOTHER & FATHER ARE
    NO LONGER WITH YOU–BUT THE ”ANGEL’S OF LIFE ARE”…. AS YOU GET OLDER PLEASE ”TO THE FULLEST”… ”DRUG FREE” IF YOU CAN…
    LIVE THE LIFE YOUR MOM & DAD COULDN’T AND HOLD
    ON FOR ALL IT’S WORTH…THIS IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL
    PLACE TO BE & LIFE WILL BE WHAT YOU MAKE IT”…
    GOD BLESS JOAN FLOWERS

  13. peter king

    met him once with steve bastoni
    nice guy, funny as fuck
    sober…
    im sure he rang me one night im hoping it wasnt THAT night
    rest in peace
    pk

  14. Guy Madsen

    I met RP @ the Jersey Shore, He was a GREAT guy and a talented actor. Just a Jersey Guy made good. Too bad he could not hold onto his life to give us more.
    God Bless!
    See you on the Shore !
    Guy

  15. Julie Pitts

    I am shocked to just know learn of Robert’s death. I am truly saddened for everyone who loved him and his daughter. It’s to bad he ended it the way he did. I will truly miss his comedic humor. Rest in Peace Bobby.

  16. Valerie

    I just recently learned of Robert Pastorelli’s death and just tonight learned of how he died. As a recovering alcoholic, I am always saddened to hear of someone’s death by substance abuse. I am especially saddened when that person has been clean for many years and somehow find their way back into the black hole. I am heartbroken that this talented and beautiful man is among them. I can only hope that the incredible pain and torment he was in is no longer with him. We will all be the poorer at no longer being entertained by his wit, charm and grace.

  17. km

    Robert was one of the sweetest people I ever knew. He was a great actor and true friend. I find it hard to believe the reports that have come out after his death. This does not sound like the person that I knew.
    km

  18. bouttime

    the fact he was a junkie doesn’t make him a bad guy, we all have our own demons.
    if he had anything to do with the death of his girlfriend…well he loses credit for anything good he ever did in his life.

  19. Sheryl

    As to the authenticity of Roberts 1959 Cadillac, his doctor friend, the shop that restored it for him 11 years ago, the executor of his estate, and the Cadillac dealer who sold it to me will verify it to be Roberts personal car. He owned it for 12 years up until his death. P is a basher that doesn’t know anything!

  20. Barbara

    Bobby and I were waiters together in the ’70s in a burger joint in NYC. We partied a lot and called each other “Bobby Baby.” He was my “Jersey paisan” – good memories. He and our Chilean friend, Roberto, were known as “Rico and Rizzo.” Out of all of us struggling actors/singers/dancers, who knew that “F—in’ Bobby” (another nickname) was the one to make it. He made it…and sadly, ended it too early.
    Love to you in heaven, Bobby,
    Bronx Bobbie

  21. anonamous

    you people don’t know what ur talking about….bobbie was practically my uncle every summer he’d come at like 10 at night n we would go to point pleasant n stuff they used to keep it open later for us….he was so great ….he had two daughters GIANNA (not giannina) and maria i know both of them….his death was a shock to all of us and no he did not die on his daughters 4th birthday…even most of that crap about him killing his girlfriend isn’t true…. you dumb fucks need to keep your facts straight…

  22. Diane Raver

    Bobby Pastorelli was the kindest, generous, funniest most loving friend I have ever had. He was totally devoted to his family..his entire family.He was proudest of both of his beautiful daughters and we knew them both well.He was an Uncle to our children and we miss him every day of our lives. I spent the anniversay of Charmins death with him twice. What ever happened that night his remorse and regret was apparent and I believe with all my heart it was accidental.
    He called me 3 days before he died…he practically told me those old demons were around. That’s LA, that’s the price of fame and fortune.
    Thank you Bobby for giving our family the richness of you and your family in our lives. God Bless and say hi to Elvis for us!

  23. bouttime

    Bobby Pastorelli killed me dead, the only good thing i have to say about that is i now sleep very soundly.
    think its fun being killed? try it sometime.
    Note i refer to him as “bobby”, so that means i must have known him very well.
    also is it reasonable to expect dumb fucks to get their facts straight? i mean like isn’t that kind of contrary to what a dumb fuck is?
    hey all you undumb fucks out there get your facts straight, like just because a guy buys you a balloon bouquet doesn’t make him a great guy.
    lets see, shoot herion or make sure my kids have a father throughout their childhood?……..hmmmmm that’s a toughy.
    everyone is a great person to someone. that alone doesn’t make them great…or even good.

  24. PFG

    I just saw Robert in Be Cool. He was great. I spent many a Monday night with him and Murpy. So sad that he is gone.
    Didn’t he play in a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and Bruce Willis?
    p

  25. early

    I am interested in talking to bouttime. I hear you. post another
    tribute if you hear me. I dated bobby for a long time, and I would like to hear more of what you have to say.

  26. early

    I think I may know who you are, bouttime, and I’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time. Maybe I’m wrong, it can’t hurt to try. People who didn’t know him that well (even though they may have thought they did) tend to sanctify him. And the people who did know him well, well they know what’s up, huh?

  27. K

    I just purchased the DVD series of “Cracker”. Such a tragedy, my heart and prayers go out to his children and the rest of his family, God rest his soul.

  28. Mrs. R.

    For all of you who CLAIM to have been Bobby’s friend…actions speak louder than words. I know exactly who you are. Only one of you has been kind to his mother and father who were kind to you and need our support. With friends like you…..it’s the holidays …make a gesture!

  29. emily

    To anonymous, do not disrespect my daughter by calling her “Maria”! her name is Giannina Marie, and Bobby did selfishly die two days after her fourth birthday. she is a beautiful, sweeet little girl who I am proud to be the godmother of. I was there the day she was born and most of you do not know what you are saying. And the rude comments? Please remember that one day not to far away, two girls will get onto the internet to look up their father and could read what you have read. I will agree Bobby was not a good boyfriend to anyone he was with, but he ddid love his daughter’s and they loved him and always will. They should not have to see this smut

  30. emily1

    Sorry, Giannina is my god-daughter, but I love her like my own child, so it makes me angry to see the hatered that is written about her father, whether it is true or not

  31. brian

    hey anonymous, get real! the guy was not who you thought he was, I know his dead ex girlfriend’s family very well and if you want to know the truth…read the police reports!

  32. brian

    Bobby does have a daughter name GIANNINA!!! not Maria, and he did die two days after her 4th birthday. I know this as my fiance is Giannina’s godmother. Both his daughter’s are very sweet and please remember they may both read whatever you say here someday. I was not a fan of bobby the person, so We sympathize with you scorned women here, but let it go, for his little daughters at least.

  33. dv

    I am a nobody who knows nobody, but I do not care what a person may or may not have done while here on earth. Nobody deserves bad-mouthing after death. It’s in the past, forget and move on. Those who have wonderful memories, hang on to those and ignore the jerks who aren’t happy unless they’re bashing somebody.
    To Robert’s family my heart goes out to you, and to his girlfriend’s family, I feel just as much empathy for you as well. For the daughter’s sake, things should be left alone. Let her/them remember the good times, and help her/them to forget the bad. I’ve only seen one daughter listed in anything that I can find on-line.
    I could imagine the type of person he may have been, great and wonderful in general but maybe a bit hard to get along with in an intimate relationship. I’ve known many people like that, even myself. Alot of people are like that. It’s the natural way to protect yourself. Nobody deserves to be bashed for that.
    Personally, I did have a crush on him (as Eldin, because I know no famous people) and still dream of him. That character was everything I ever wanted in a man. Plus I think that he was sexy as all get out!!!
    You know, people, if you don’t like somebody why waste your time writing about them? Go do something that makes you happy. Let God be the judge, because not a single one of us are qualified.

  34. james

    Hey dv,
    you know nothing of what your are speaking of, and you too should be ashamed of what you are writing that ANYONE can see!
    go read Robert’s profile on the IMDB if you want to know about his family and his career, anythign else is just hearsay from a bunch of scorned women and any fans that way too much negativity inside.
    dv-if you can’t say something nice, don’t say ANYTHING at all!
    Robert was a great guy, would give you the shirt off his back,,,shame in you all!

  35. Andy De Mers

    I’ve known him my entire life; I grew up with Bobby; I remember him like my little brother; we partied, cried, laughed, argued, even got into a physical bout once (when we were kids); Bob was in my first wedding; we went to drama school together, I was living him on the lower east side of Manhattan when he left to go and do Barney Miller; I took over his waiting job. Bobby was a great guy; all of us have problems, dysfunctions, and idiosyncracys and Bobby was no exception because he was a human being, but he was a great guy indeed. God rest his soul and please bless his family.

  36. a fan

    It’s sad to read negativity in something called Tributes. People who have addictions cannot always help themselves, no matter how much they love those around them. Robert Pastorelli was an actor who made you forget you were watching an actor. That’s the greatest tribute of all. No one can know what it’s really like to walk in another’s shoes, so don’t be so harsh in judging him. Be thankful for the gift he had that he shared with the world.

  37. Sarah Sheahan

    I really like A Simple Wish. It was one of my favourite movies. I love Robert Pastorelli as Oliver Greening. He is so handsome, he seems like a really nice person and a great singer. It’s a shame he died at 50. I wish he was still alive. I would have loved to have met him.
    I went to America with my family in 1997 when they made this movie and I went to Hollywood but I wasn’t lucky enough to meet him unfortunately.
    I watch this movie alot and I really miss him. He is my favourite in A Simple Wish.

  38. Sarah Sheahan

    I wrote a tribute yesterday and I just want to say I just sent an email to Gwen Pastorelli on her website she is Robert’s sister and I really hope I get a email back from her if I do I will be the luckiest girl at my school! I’ll put another tribute on if I get an email from her! I’ll be so happy!

  39. no name...but knows

    Someone asked about Charemon and lamented that it is too bad not more is available on the web. Charemon was not only a beautiful girl but she was, after 5 long years, vindicated and her death is now listed as a homicide. That is to say she was murdered by Mr. Pastorelii.

  40. Kevin

    my daughter has been going to school with Robert’s younget daugher Gia (Giannina) since preschool. I met Robert on many occasions and he was a great guy and very loving fahter. I was aslo at Gia’s 4th birthday party and it was two days before Robert died. I did find info about Gia on Robert’s IMDB page and I asked her mother recelty why there is so litle known about Gia and she said she has tried her best to hide her from the negativity of all of this. Robert was a really personable and down to earth guy who always vounteered in his daughter’s clasroom and seemed to really enjoy his daughter’s. Too bad so many of you dwell on the bad instead of his great talent, his zest for life, and his wonderful nature.

  41. JP

    Bobby was my cousin. The times I had with him were memorable, and will be missed. Everybody has tough times in there life unfortunatly…it ended his. I dont look at him for the negitave that he was a part of, I look at him for the loving person, and big hearted man he was.
    JP

  42. Andy De Mers

    I agree, those who come to a blog where tribute should be paid and leave negativity, should be ashamed of themselves. Who is so perfect that they have the nerve to condemn anyone for anything? He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone. Bottom line: If you can’t say something decent; then don’t say anything.

  43. BGM

    just watched the movie “Michael” which is one of those feel good movies I often find myself reaching for. The chemistry of the characters was great.
    It’s too bad Robert Pastorelli couldn’t fend off the demons – a life destroyed by evil is very sad. For all who judge this man, it’s not for you to judge. Did you walk in his shoes? Rest in peace Robert.

  44. The Leen

    I had a dream about Robert Pastorelli last night. I am one of those people who never knew him, but always enjoyed him, and still wish that the story of his death was all just a horrible mistake and he was still alive. He may not have been a perfect person, obviously he had his demons, but so does everyone else. Everyone. It would be nice to let him rest in peace. It’s evident he struggled with his past enough all on his own. I for one, am still saddened every time I think about him not being around. I can only hope that they are showing his movies in the afterlife.
    Rest in peace Robert. I miss you, even from afar.

  45. Diane (Nee Hirschmann) Kelly

    I first met Robert in my living room on Thanksgiving Day in 1985. I was living in an apt in West Hollywood with my old roomate Lynn Wendel. She’d invited him, … and the main thing I remember is that he and a buddy of his, stayed until dawn playing a rental piano we had in the living room. They sang, and jammed all night, and it made my whole day and the slaving in the kitchen worthwhile!!! The last time I saw him was at an AA meeting a few years later … He had a good heart, but, had his demons which drew him back to drugs. We should all pray for Charemon, her baby daughter, and his other as well as for Robert’s soul.
    Very very sad all around for all involved.

  46. BLOOM

    I only know of his part in Dances with Wolves. He was a scene stealer! Small lines like “Why don’t he write?”, and “Put that in your book!” are some of the most comical lines delivered in cinematic history, in a beautiful epic film, no less.
    I’m sorry for his troubled life, and I pray that he has found his peace.

  47. David

    RP, a man of his generation. He did what he came here to do. Then he left. There is such a thin veneer between the temporal and the eternal. If you knew him, peace to you. If you did peace to you also. The distance from here to eternity, is
    one foot……on the accelerator.

  48. CLM

    There’s so much to this tragic story that many of us will never know, nor is it our business. Although the pain of Charemon’s passing will never be forgotten, her passing did have a miracle attached to it. It shocked me out of a deep depression and saved my life. I’m so sorry for all that loved and adored her, you are constantly in my prayers.

  49. Marcio

    What a fraud this guy was. Two kids and all the selfish bastard thinks about is himself and feeding his habit
    Sad really…

  50. LIVED IN EDISON

    (NOT YELLING), I DON’T HAVE MY READING GLASSES WITH ME
    BOBBY 1ST MOVIE WAS PLAYING A ZOMBIE IN THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. BOBBY WAS A REGUALR JOE. HE WOULD WEAR A WHITE T-SHIRT AND ROLL UP THE ENDS TO PUT THE HARD PACK OF MARLBORO CIGS IN THERE. HE LOVED GOING TO WILDWOOD, NJ TO ESCAPE ALL THE ENQUIRER AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS. FORGET BEING A JUNKIE, THE GUY WAS A REGULAR GUY. MOST OF HIS FRIENDS IN HIGH SCHOOL WERE THE SAME AS HIM. 60’S RADICALS. EDISON HIGH SCHOOL THRU HIM OUT OF SCHOOL, THEN AFTER HE MAKES IT BIG, THE SCHOOL WANTS TO PAY TRIBUTE TO HIM AND PUT A PLAQUE UP IN THE SCHOOL. HE SAID “NO THANK YOU.” HE WORKED HIS BUTT OFF IN NEW YORK WAITING ON TABLES AND BARTENDING. HIS PARENTS WERE VERY NICE PEOPLE. THE MONEY DIDN’T GO TO HIS HEAD.HE WAS ALRIGHT. YOU CAN SAY ROBERT AND JOE PESCI HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON. WHEN THEY GO BACK TO THEIR OLD NEIGHBORHOODS, THEY DIDN’T FORGET WHERE THEY STARTED

  51. Kathy Kelley

    Back in the early eighties Every Monday night at The Central in Hollywood, Bobby and I would were there. Both of us huge fans of Chuck E Weiss and the Goddamn Liars who had the slot. He used to say “How you doin` Handsome” in that Jersey Drawl of his whenever he spotted me. He was a talented actor and a dear friend and is missed. He is in good company. Hey Bobby, say “Hi” to Spyder for me! Rest in Peace….

  52. David Gorham

    Robert Pastorelli was a wonderful actor. His death was a loss. Unfortunately, had he NOT BEEN on drugs (heroin) he would of never killed his girlfriend and he would still be alive today making movies and entertaining america. I really like the guy. Let his death be a lesson to all. Don’t Drink, Smoke or do drugs.

  53. Giannina Marie pastorelli

    Hi I am Robert pastorellies youngest daughter. I love him and miss him so much. And just so you know some of the stuff that you wrote in there was completely wrong information. And I stand for both my sister and I when I say this. This guy named Ron he didn’t post his last name wrote a really mean post about my daddy. I’m only 10 so this language really isn’t appropriate for me to say. F OFF RON! Don’t say mean stuff about my daddy! And thanks to you now I’m crying. I can’t wait to see you in he’ll you little a*s b*t*h! I love you daddy and I know you won’t be proud of me for writing this but I love you and I hope that that guy learns a lesson from carma. I love you and I miss you so much me and Gianna are thinking about you all the time. You were the most important person in the world and I will love you forever. Ti amo

  54. Giannina Marie Pastorelli

    And to anonymous thane for sticking up for my daddy and my name is Giannina Maria was my dad’s baby name for me. And he did have a 1959 cadillac I don’t know what your talking about. And he didn kill Gianna’s mom. And my mom is alive and I love her for acting as both a mom and a dad. Unfortatly I is Gianna’s mom that can’t be with us today

  55. Friend

    Neither of these last comments are very doubtfully Gianna so stop impersonating her! Next time get your facts straight!

  56. Friend_98

    Robert’s youngest daughter was Gina Marie so get your facts straight, anyways will you just leave both of them be poor Robert is resting in peace and Gianna along with Gina Marie have had enough of this so please stop it with the harshness, thank you

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