JAY NOVELLO. 1904 - 1982.
When I was a kid I saw Irwin Allen's production of The Lost World and the classic seance episode of I Love Lucy many times, but I never made the connection between the simpering South American "Costa" of the former and the nerdy but lovable "Mr. Merriweather" of the latter. ("We're all odd, aren't we?" he says to Lucy and Ricky.) Novello, who has 205 credits to his name, also appeared on two other I Love Lucy episodes, playing Mario from Italy and a nervous trial witness who only wants some peace and quiet which, of course, he doesn't get from Lucy. He was in dozens of films, appeared in virtually every famous TV show, had parts in cliffhanger serials, and was always first-rate in everything he did. Why did it take me so long to recognize that Costa and Mr. Merriweather were played by the same actor? Because Novello was one of those rare birds, a very gifted, genuinely versatile performer who could lose himself in every role he played, convincingly portraying any kind of person and affecting whatever accent was required by the role. (In The Mad Magician with Vincent Price you'd have thought he was actually a British actor. And he played an Eskimo chief in The Great Alaskan Mystery!) Jay Novello left behind more than his share of very memorable portrayals and was one of those really great character actors who was a boon to every production he took part in.