- The actor had battled a rare brain disease for four years, according to his family
- His character Slap Shot inspired the X-Men comic book character Wolverine.
- In his later years, D’Amato worked as a boot fitter at a Vermont ski shop.
Actor Paul D’Amato, who inspired the comic character Wolverine and appeared in the wedding scene of The Deer Hunter, died Monday at age 76 after a four-year battle with a rare brain disease, his family said.
He was best known for playing a jaded Vietnam veteran opposite Robert De Niro in the 1978 Vietnam epic Deer Hunter, but also played a variety of characters on the television police drama Law and Order.
His fiancee Marina Re told him The Hollywood Reporter He was “the most wonderful, sweetest guy” who fought “so hard” against his illness.
D’Amato’s co-star in the 1977 ice hockey comedy-drama Slap Shot, Steve Carlson, also confirmed the news of his death in a post on X.
Carlson said: ‘RIP Paul D’Amato. ‘Sending our deepest condolences to family, friends and actors.’
Actor Paul D’Amato, who appeared in the wedding scene of The Deer Hunter, has died aged 76. Photographed in the 1978 film.
It was the late actor’s performance as Tim ‘Dr. Hook’ McCracken in Slap Shot, which also starred Paul Newman and inspired the X-Men comic book character Wolverine.
Cartoonist John Byrne said of the star: “He just looked that way.” He had crazy eyes. And that’s what Wolverine needs to have.
In his later years, D’Amato worked as a boot fitter at a Vermont ski shop and is survived by his sister Andrea and his girlfriend Marina Re.
Born in Worcester and later raised in Spencer, Massachusetts, D’Amato began working as a stagehand when he was 14, which inspired him to become an actor.
D’Amato was an athlete and actor and appeared in theater productions and on the ice hockey team while attending Emerson College in Boston.
D’Amato said Worcester Magazine in 2014 that his ice hockey experience opened the door to his time at Slap Shot.
“I got a call from my agent: ‘You play hockey, right? Do you still skate? “I said yes,” he told the publication.
D’Amato said he had an audition at the local Sky Rink when he learned that “Paul Newman is making a hockey movie.”
It was the late actor’s performance as Dr. Hook Tim McCracken in Slap Shot that inspired the X-Men comic book character Wolverine.
Cartoonist John Byrne said of the star: “He just looked that way.” He had crazy eyes. And that’s what Wolverine needs to have’
The actor described auditioning for the comedy, which also starred Strother Martin, Michael Ontkean and Jerry Houser.
“At the audition I looked, they were already on the ice but they couldn’t skate and my heart almost beat out of my chest because I realized at that moment that I had a chance, that I was better than these guys.” he said.
D’Amato also appeared in a number of charity golf tournaments and sports meets, including the Enfield tournament, in which he played for about 10 years and raised funds for scholarships.