The Sound of the Crowd

Oh, No

The actor who played one of my favorite television characters, Eldin Bernecky on Murphy Brown, has died.

Robert Pastorelli was 49. “Drug paraphernalia was found on the scene.” Goddamn it.

As the painter hired to do Murphy’s house who somehow ended up never quite leaving, doing imaginative murals (which we never saw) and eventually becoming nanny to Murphy’s Quayle-enraging child, Pastorelli got to play some of my favorite moments in the classic early years of that series. But he never found another role that suited him quite so well again, though he tried the lead in his own sitcom & the title role in the US version of Cracker. He ended up mostly a character actor in the movies, playing one thug after another. As Eldin showed us, he had the capacity for more than that.

I was trying to think of which favorite moment from the series I should write up here (I’ve got at least a couple of dozen), and I’ve decided this is the most appropriate. I’m working from memory, so this may not be exact. It comes from the episode where Murphy’s mother, who had been a friend to Eldin as well, has passed away. Eldin tells Murphy:

“I’m going to to go down to the painters’ bar, and I’m going to have a cappuccino in her honor. Then I’m going to take off my pants and drive around town.”

“What? Why?”

“It’s something we do in the Bernecky family whenever a loved one passes on. No one knows why, really. My own theory is that somewhere along the way lines of communication got crossed–but nobody wants to be the first to break tradition, you know?”

I can’t say I’ll be going that far for Robert Pastorelli–I don’t drink cappuccino and the Windchill is 48 *F / 9 *C. But still: Oh, no.


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