Vachik Mangassarian, known for his work in “NCIS,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and more, has died. He was 78. A rep for Mangassarian told the Hollywood Reporter he died in Burbank, Calif. from COVID-19 complications.
On “NCIS,” he played a fake Iranian president and on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he played a cleric. His other TV credits include “The Mentalist,” “JAG,” “NYPD Blue,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Falcon Crest.”
The Iran-born Armenian actor moved to the United States at age 23 and worked as a waiter in Los Angeles while immersing himself into the entertainment scene. Mangassarian then landed his first film role for “The South’s Shark” in 1978.
In addition to Mangassarian’s extensive work in television, recently with a small appearance on “Chad,” he appeared on both the stage and big screen throughout the following decades — including “The Stoning of Soraya M” starring Jim Caviezel and “Moving On” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
As a strong supporter of the Armenian community, the actor also anchored his own radio and later television show, “The Armenian National Network,” where guests discussed politics, film and art. In 2012, he helped bring the feature film “Lost and Found in Armenia,” in which he also appeared, to U.S. audiences.
According to the Daily Beast, in the months before his death from COVID-19-related complications, Mangassarian frequently expressed his opposition to COVID-19 vaccines and shared misinformation on social media that suggested the pandemic was part of a grand conspiracy. In an October Facebook post, for example, Mangassarian shared a photo of a billboard that read, “I am more afraid of a Democrat in the White House than I am of COVID-19.” However, his manager Valerie McCaffrey later confirmed with the outlet that Mangassarian ultimately got the vaccine as a requirement for film projects.
Mangassarian is survived by two sisters, Linda Lalaian of Glendale and Elda Hacopian, two nephews, Derek Hacopian, Ara Hacopian and niece Aida Hacopian.