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Tony Musante, veteran actor who gave up 'Toma' role, dies

Nov. 29, 2013 at 8:27 AM

NEW YORK, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Tony Musante, the actor who left his best-known role, "Toma," after one season, has died in a New York hospital. He was 77.

Musante's wife, Jane, said he was recovering from surgery at a New York hospital when he died Tuesday, The New York Times reported.

While he never became a major star, Musante had a full resume on stage, in movies and in television during a half-century career. He appeared with George C. Scott in 1971 in the movie "The Last Run," with Merryl Streep on stage in 1971 in "27 Wagons Full of Cotton" and in 2007 as Italian mobster Nino Schibetta in the TV prison drama "Oz."

In 1973, he accepted the role of a New Jersey police detective in ABC's "Toma" but said he wanted to be able to leave after a year. He did so, and the series morphed into "Baretta," starring Robert Blake, while Musante went on to the television movie "Judgment Day: The Court Martial of Lt. William Calley."

"People in Hollywood always asked him if he regretted it, but he really never did," Jane Musante told the Times. "He didn't become the household name, or make the money he would have had he done it. But he needed variety."

Musante also acted in a number of Italian movies.

Musante was born in Bridgeport, Conn. He met his wife, then Jane Sparkes, while both were students at Oberlin College in Ohio, and the couple married in 1962.

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