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'Days of Our Lives' bad guy Joseph Mascolo dies at 87

Last Updated Dec 9, 2016 at 9:00 pm PDT

FILE - This June 22, 2014 file photo shows actor Joseph Mascolo at the 41st annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Mascolo, an actor most well-known for his portrayal of the evil villain Stefano DiMera on NBC's daytime drama "Days of our Lives," died, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2016. He was 87. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Joseph Mascolo, who played bad guy Stefano DiMera on NBC’s daytime serial “Days of Our Lives,” has died. He was 87.

Mascolo, who had Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years, died Wednesday, according to a statement released by NBC on behalf of his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo.

Although he was best known for his role as crime boss and mogul DiMera, Mascolo was a classically trained musician and appeared on Broadway in plays including “Dinner at Eight” and “That Championship Season.”

His wide-ranging TV credits included the prime-time series “Kojak,” ”Hill Street Blues” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.” He began on “Days of Our Lives” in 1982 and, despite taking breaks from the show, spent a total of more than two decades with it.

Mascolo also appeared in the daytime serials “The Bold and the Beautiful,” ”General Hospital” and “Santa Barbara.”

A native of West Hartford, Connecticut, he began studying music as a youngster and attended the University of Miami before deciding to pursue acting.

To support himself while he studied with famed acting coach Stella Adler in New York, Mascolo played clarinet with the Metropolitan Opera, according to his family.

During his long career, he appeared on stage in London and Los Angeles and was active in regional theatre, including in New York and Connecticut.

On the big screen, he had parts in films including “Sharky’s Machine,” ”Jaws 2″ and “Yes, Giorgio” — the latter giving him the chance to sing with Luciano Pavarotti.

He is survived by his wife, son, stepdaughter, sister and five grandchildren.