Tony Musante, who appeared on numerous TV shows, in films and on Broadway, but was best known for starring in 1973 series “Toma,” died Tuesday in Manhattan of a hemorrhage after oral surgery. He was 77.
Musante left the ABC detective show after one season to pursue opportunities onstage such as his first Broadway role, “P.S. Your Cat is Dead!,” and in films. After he left, the show was relaunched a few years later as “Baretta” and became popular with Robert Blake in Musante’s .
He had a recurring role on “Oz” and was nominated for an Emmy for “Medical Story.”
Among his film roles were “The Last Run” opposite George C. Scott in 1971, “The Pope of Greenwich Village” and 1967’s “The Incident” with Martin Sheen. He appeared on Broadway with Meryl Streep in Tennessee Williams’s “27 Wagons Full of Cotton” in 1976.
Although “Toma” was performing fairly well against highly-rated “The Waltons” and “The Flip Wilson Show,” he left to play the title role in Stanley Kramer’s 1975 telefilm “Judgment: The Court Martial of Lt. William Calley.”
“People in Hollywood always asked him if he regretted it, but he really never did,” his wife, Jane, told the New York Times, adding: “He didn’t become the household name, or make the money he would have had he done it. But he needed variety.”
He also appeared in several Italian TV shows and films such as 2003’s “La Vita Come Viene.”
Musante was born in Bridgeport, Conn. and graduated Oberlin College in Ohio. He is survived by his wife, two sisters and a brother.