R.I.P. Nicholas Georgiade, the tough Rico Rossi of The Untouchables
He was a boxer in the Army and his brother was a police officer in real life. Who better to play one of Eliot Ness' men?
In 1950, on an Army base in Nuremberg, Germany, two servicemen stepped into a ring to trade punches. The heavyweights threw blows until one won in a decision. His name was Nicholas Georgiade. The loser, Bob Biehler, went on to become a professional fighter. Nick would instead become a television tough guy.
Nine years later, in 1959, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, the anthology series hosted and produced by Desi Arnaz, aired a two-part episode called "The Untouchables," an adaptation of famous Chicago law enforcer Eliot Ness' memoirs. That pilot centered around the T-man and his battle against Al Capone (Neville Brand). Georgiade played a thug in a raid in that tale.
When The Untouchables was picked up for a full series, Georgiade was upgraded to the opposite side of the law — and a series lead. He would play Agent Enrico "Rico" Rossi, sidekick to Ness (Robert Stack). His character was a barber who turned gangbuster after his wife is killed by a crook. The Greek-American actor stayed on the series for its full four seasons.
Later, his boxing experience would further pay off in Hollywood. He was a henchman named "Kayo" alongside the Riddler in the Batman episode "Ring Around the Riddler." He would also pop up as a tough guy in Mannix, Hawaii Five-O, Mission: Impossible, The Mod Squad, The Rockford Files, Kojak — all the great action shows of that era.
Georgiade died on December 19, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 88.