John Zderko, ‘Criminal Minds’ Actor, Dead at 60

by Emily Morgan

John Zderko, an actor who worked on popular TV series such as “Criminal Minds,” has died at just 60-years-old after a long battle with cancer. 

According to reports from his friend and fellow actor Charley Koontz, the late-blooming star died in Los Angeles. He suffered complications from his cancer treatment. 

John’s friend Charley, who some might remember as playing Neil in Dan Harmon’s “Community,” first broke the news of his friend’s death. 

At the time of his death, he wrote via Twitter, “RIP to my friend John Zderko. A gifted actor, a generous scene partner, one of my best friends and a truly kind person in a world that needs more of them. Love you, pal. Onward.”

Koontz made another heartfelt tribute to his late friend on Twitter, writing, “A great friend and an excellent actor gone way too soon. Thank you so much to @THR and @MikeBarnes4 for giving our friend a true Hollywood send off. And to @captainblackusa for the great idea. Your name in lights one more time, John. Love you pal. RIP.”

Beyond “Community,” Koontz also held a role in the popular crime procedural “CSI: Cyber.” After Koontz posted his tribute, friends and fans of Zderko quickly replied with their own condolences to the late actor. One wrote, “Memories live on. sending my sympathy to you and all who will miss him.”

Friends, fans mourn passing of ‘Criminal Minds’ star

Another person seemed shocked, writing, “Whaaa? Ugh I’m crestfallen reading this. Great guy. He will be missed.” Another user seemed to write directly to Koontz, “By far the best part of the business. So sorry for your loss, Charley.”

Survivors of Zberko include his sister, Karen, brother-in-law Steve, and nephews Jason and Jeff.

Beyond “Criminal Minds,” Zderko also worked as an actor on “The Mentalist,” “9-1-1: Lone Star,” and “Bosch: Legacy.” In 2022, Zderko appeared in the Bleeker Street release Breaking, which featured John Boyega and the late Michael K. William. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

Born and raised in Ohio, Colorado, and New Jersey, he attended Park Ridge High School and played on the basketball team with the late “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini.

He graduated from UC Irvine and later built a successful business career while taking acting classes at UCLA at night. However, he soon decided to pursue acting full-time. 

He began his career in show business on stage at West of Broadway in Santa Monica, California, under the direction of writer-director Dianne Name. He made his first on-screen appearance in 2005 in a short film titled Twilight

The late actor had a role in the 2014 horror film Apparitional, also known as Haunting of Cellblock 11. Zderko played a man attacked by a ghost, which took over his body.