Joseph Mascolo, who played crime lord and patriarch Stefano DiMera on “Days of Our Lives” starting in 1982, died on Thursday. He was 87 and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

“It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved member of the ‘Days of our Lives’ family, Joseph Mascolo,” “Days of Our Lives” executive producer Ken Corday said in a statement. “The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades, and will live on in the memories of his many fans.”

Originally from West Hartford, Conn., Mascolo trained as a classical musician before becoming an actor. He also appeared in films including “Jaws 2” as a property developer, “Shaft’s Big Score,” “Sharky’s Machine,” and the 1986 thriller “Heat.”

On the long-running soap opera, he played the wealthy European businessman from 1982 to 1985, and then returned in 1988 and from 1993 to 2001. He continued making appearances until the character died on the show in 2016, after at least a dozen fake deaths. Soap Opera Digest named him the all-time best villain.

He also played a villain on “General Hospital,” and appeared on “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Santa Barbara.” Among his other television appearances were “The Incredible Hulk,” “All in the Family,” “Lou Grant,” and “The Rockford Files.”

He is survived by his wife, Patricia, a son, a step-daughter, a sister, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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