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."]