With a career spanning 50 years and more than 200 screen appearances, Vito Scotti was a highly accomplished actor. A world-famous character actor, to be precise. Known as the man of a thousand faces, Vito Scotti possessed the unique talent of using improv and expression to take a small role and make it integral to the scene.
Trained in the Italian commedia dell’arte style of theater, Vito Scotti eventually found his way to the set of the classic TV series The Addams Family. In the season one episode “Art and the Addams Family,” Grandmama calls “Picasso” hoping to find an art teacher. Rather than Pablo, she finds Sam Picasso, played by Scotti.
Now, Sam isn’t an artist, but he agrees to come to the mansion regardless. Once among the rest of the Addams Family cast, Vito Scotti creates comedy gold as the false Picasso. He’s such a hit that the Addams Family creators asked him to return three more times.
As his talents allowed, Vito Scotti played three different characters in these return appearances. Though he reprised his role as Sam Picasso once, he also appeared as Professor Altshuler, Miri Haan, and Mikey Grimm.
Throughout his career, Vito Scotti felt that he sacrificed fame for his art, in a way. While he was a talented actor, few knew his name or face because of his elite skills in the art of transformation.
He was so great at transforming himself into a new person entirely, in fact, that fans believed his roles were played by different actors. For Vito Scotti, a simple makeup change is all that’s needed to create a detailed character.
‘The Addams Family’ Star John Astin Recounts Finding His Way to the Series
While Vito Scotti recalls being asked to audition for his role on The Addams Family, John Astin says the creators came to him instead. In an interview with AV Club, the Addams Family patriarch recounted his first interaction with the series’ creators.
“They came to me,” Astin explained. “I never read for it or anything. I had been in a few things that had done well. And in those days, once you got over that hump, you didn’t have to read.”
Producer Marty Ransohoff approached John Astin with every intention of convincing the actor to play Gomez. It turns out, however, that a pitch was wholly unnecessary, as Astin was a huge fan of the series as a child, back when it was still a comic strip.
“I was a Charles Addams fan before my college days,” Astin recalled. “I mean, my roommate and I would put our pennies together and buy a book of Addams’ cartoons and razor out the ones we liked best and frame them and put them up in our room. That was our decor!”