Jon Polito – another good one gone

So it goes, still.

Actor Jon Polito is best known for his roles in various Coen Brothers films, but to those of us who have followed Homicide: Life on the Street, he will always be known as Detective Steve Crosetti, partnered with Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson) for the first two, truncated series.

Polito, who doesn’t seem to have changed in the twenty years since being one of the founder members of the cast, played Crosetti as an excitable, wheezing veteran, a fan of jazz, a divorced man with a daughter he couldn’t understand, and a conspiracy theorist with an obsession with the Lincoln Assassination.

He was the first cast member to leave the series, partly down to disputes with the producers, but principally as part of the conditions for the show’s renewal for a Third Season, NBC insisting on at least a gesture towards introducing younger, more photogenic actors.

And he’s the first among Homicide‘s seventeen cast members over its seven season run to leave us in real life. I rarely saw him in anything else, supporting roles in occasional films, so I can only think of him as Crosetti, and to me that’s enough. He was written out as a suicide, for reasons never determined, but he was there at the very end, a rotund and very substantial ghost in a squadroom coffee room, dealing out the cards for an endless game of Five Card Stud, free from concerns and waiting for the next one to turn up.

Here’s hoping that his card game is Solitaire for a very long time. Crosetti wouldn’t mind.

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