Don Calfa, an iconic character actor who graced both the big and small screens, passed away on December 1, 2016, leaving behind a legacy of memorable performances. Known for his distinctive look and incredible talent, Calfa captured the hearts of viewers with his unique blend of humor, wit, and charm.
Born on December 3, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York, Calfa began his acting career in the late 1960s, making appearances in several off-Broadway productions. His breakout role came in 1973 when he played Ernie, the mild-mannered orderly, in the cult classic “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.” Although his role was relatively small, Calfa’s ability to bring depth and authenticity to his character left a lasting impression on audiences.
However, it was in the horror genre that Calfa truly made his mark. In 1985, he starred in what would become his most famous role as Ernie Kaltenbrunner, the lovable mortician, in “The Return of the Living Dead.” Calfa’s portrayal of Ernie, a character torn between professionalism and personal desires, was praised by critics and fans alike. His comedic timing and memorable one-liners elevated the film from pure horror to a cult classic that continues to be adored by fans today.
Calfa’s talent was not limited to the horror genre. He showcased his versatility in various films throughout his career. From playing a bumbling hitman in “Weekend at Bernie’s” to a German soldier in “1941,” Calfa effortlessly transitioned between comedic and dramatic roles. His ability to captivate audiences with his nuanced performances set him apart from other actors of his time.
In addition to film, Calfa also made a significant impact on television. He appeared in numerous shows, including “Kojak,” “Hill Street Blues,” and “Taxi.” He had the ability to bring his characters to life, no matter the size of the role or the medium. His dedication to his craft and commitment to every project he took on made him a versatile and beloved actor.
Beyond his talent, Calfa was known for his generosity and kind-hearted nature. Co-stars and friends often spoke of his warm and welcoming personality, making him a joy to work with on set. Calfa’s professionalism and passion for his craft were evident in every role he portrayed, leaving a lasting impact on his colleagues and the industry as a whole.
Although Calfa may not have achieved the level of fame that some of his co-stars did, his impact on the film and television industry cannot be understated. He proved that a great actor is not defined solely by the number of accolades or mainstream recognition, but by the ability to touch the hearts of viewers and leave a lasting impression.
As we remember the late Don Calfa, let us celebrate his remarkable career and the joy he brought to the screen. His unique style, captivating performances, and unforgettable characters will forever live on in the hearts of his fans. Don Calfa will always be remembered as an iconic actor who left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.