Camille Saviola, ‘Deep Space Nine’ and theater actor, dies at 71

Opera theater

Camille Saviola, an actress and singer who made an impression in the musical “Nine” on Broadway, in various cabaret parodies and on television in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and other series, died on the 28th. October in a northern hospital. Bergen, NJ She was 71 years old.

Alyssa Romeo, a great-niece, said the cause was heart failure.

Ms. Saviola often made comparisons to Ethel Merman for her great voice, which she liked to use for comedic effect. A character she has played in more than one cabaret show was given the Ten Commandments of the Soul from James Brown, earning her a nickname: “Italian Godmother of the Soul”.

On stage, she was best known for playing the role of Mama Maddelena, a spa manager, in the original production of “Nine”, Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston’s musical about a director in the midst of a midlife crisis, which debuted on Broadway in May 1982. and operated for almost two years. She was featured in a comic book issue, “The Germans at the Spa”.

But she wasn’t limited to acting. In 2005, for example, she appeared in a production of “Mother Courage and Her Children”, Bertolt Brecht’s famous anti-war play, in Pasadena, California.

“As Mother Courage, Camille Saviola is cunning, indomitable and eminently practical,” wrote Daryl H. Miller reviewing this performance in The Los Angeles Times.

She won the love of another group of fans when she was cast in “Deep Space Nine” as Kai Opaka, a spiritual leader of the planet Bajor. Although she only appeared in four episodes, from 1993 to 1996, Ms Saviola was well known to franchise followers, many of whom posted about her death on social media.

In a 1995 interview with a fan magazine of “Deep Space Nine” which is quoted on the Memory Alpha website, Ms. Saviola explained how she got the part.

“I walked in – every character actress was there – and I did a little bit of reading, the real thing,” she said, referring not to a script reading but a card reading from. tarot. “My grandmother read maps and tea leaves in Greenwich Village – she never charged people money – and I have some of that gift.”

Camille Saviola was born on July 16, 1950 in the Bronx to Michael and Mary (D’Esopo) Saviola. The performance bug is a bit early.

“I wanted to be Elvis Presley, and at age 6 I was already lip-syncing with his records and putting on magic shows,” she told the New York Times in 1985. “At l At the age of 7, I knew a thousand jokes and around puberty, I discovered Judy Garland.

Credit… Bruce Glikas / FilmMagic

She graduated from New York’s High School of Music and Art and, her great-niece said, studied voice for a while at City College, but left to work on Off Broadway and in summer stock. She also sang with an all-female rock band for a while.

In 1980, she was part of the original Off Off Broadway cast of “Starmites”, a sci-fi musical, presented only as Camille and performing a number called “Hard to Be Diva”. (The show briefly did Broadway in 1989, but without it.) She was also in a touring production of the rock opera “Tommy,” playing the characters of the Mother and the Acid Queen.

In March 1985, at the Ballroom Theater in Manhattan, she was the central figure in a cabaret musical called “Hollywood Opera” which parodied eight classic films.

“At the center of this absurdity is the incredibly funny singer-actress Camille Saviola, who delivers two mind-blowing tracks,” Stephen Holden wrote in a New York Times review. “The first is a cartoon by Anna Magnani telling the story of ‘The Rose Tattoo’ in a patterned tarantella called ‘Della Rose’s Turn’. Later, with Perry Arthur as Paul Henreid, Miss Saviola, posing as Bette Davis with Groucho Marx eyebrows, demolishes our fond memories of the two cigarettes in the dark love scene once and for all. “Now Voyager”.

Later that year, she incorporated some of these tracks into her own cabaret show, “Secrets of the Lava Lamp,” which found her alternately singing and telling stories.

Ms. Saviola played small roles in two Woody Allen films, “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984) and “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985), the first of her more than 40 film and television roles. She has had recurring roles in the 1990s television series “The Heights” and “Civil Wars” and most recently in “First Monday”, “Judging Amy” and “Entourage”. In 2018 and 2019, she had a recurring role in the Land TV series “Younger”.

Ms Saviola, who at her death was living in West New York, NJ, is survived by a sister, Mary Ann Horman.