UPDATE, with cause of death Camille Saviola, whose many stage and TV roles included the Bajoran religious leader Kai Opaka in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the mother of the hapless Turtle in Entourage and characters in Nine and Chicago on Broadway, died yesterday. She was 71.
Her death was reported on the Star Trek website WarpFactorTrek.com, and in social media posts by friends. Alyssa Romeo, Saviola’s great niece, told Deadline that Saviola died from heart failure following a brief illness.
Longtime friend and actor Harvey Fierstein tweeted: “She was a friend for 40 years who could always be counted on for a laugh, a shoulder or a kick in the ass. The Italian Godmother of Soul! Farewell.”
Actor Wilson Cruz, who said he performed with Saviola at many AIDS benefits over the years, tweeted: “What a presence this woman was! My heart is heavy. My love to Camille’s family and family of friends throughout the industry. She will be missed.”
On Facebook friend and actress Mary Jo Mecca wrote, “We lost Camille Saviola today- A DIVA of the greatest kind. I met her when we played Mother & Daughter in The Rink for The Musical Theatre Guild. We spent everyday on a park Bench sharing stories of our Italian upbringing and building a relationship that we transferred to the stage. She called me ‘Jersey’ and I called her ‘Walk-Up’…She was a tough cookie with a huge heart a wicked sense of humor and a voice that would shake the rafters….She fought the good fight in silence.”
A Bronx native who got her start in show business as a singer in 1970s New York rock band the Margo Lewis Explosion, Saviola made her Broadway debut as Mama Maddelena in the 1982 production of the Tommy Tune-directed musical Nine. In 2003, joined the replacement cast of Chicago as Matron Mama Morton.
Her film debut came just two years after her Broadway bow when she was cast in a small part in Woody Allen’s 1984 Broadway Danny Rose. She reunited with Allen the following year for a role in The Purple Rose of Cairo and from then on enjoyed a prolific career in both TV and film. She reteamed with Allen yet again in 1991’s Shadows and Fog. Other film roles included Betsy’s Wedding and Last Exit to Brooklyn.
On television, she made appearances on Remington Steele, Baby Boom, JAG, Some of My Best Friends, Saving Grace, Without a Trace and Nip/Tuck, among many others. In 1992 she recurred on both The Heights and Civil Wars, and in 1993 began playing Kai Opaka in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a role that would be featured in four episodes through 1996.
In 2002, she recurred on the James Garner legal drama First Monday as Justice Esther Weisenberg. She also played an attorney in several episodes of Judging Amy from 2002-05.
From 2006-09, Saviola recurred on HBO’s Entourage, portraying the mother of Jerry Ferrara’s character Turtle.
Saviola’s most recent credit is the recurring role of Filomena in the Darren Star-created series Younger.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.
Camille Saviola…. How could you leave us like this? She was a friend for 40 years who could always be counted on for a laugh, a shoulder or a kick I. The ass. The Italian Godmother of Soul! Farewell. pic.twitter.com/hCU4ZloIOy
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) October 29, 2021
— Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) October 29, 2021
— WarpFactorTrek.com (@WarpFactorTrek) October 29, 2021
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