Nicholas Colasanto (Photo by Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Actor Nicholas Colsanto was born on January 19, 1924, in Providence, RI. He enjoyed a long career in Hollywood and is best known for his role as “Coach” on the popular 1980s sitcom Cheers.

Colasanto grew up in Rhode Island and attended Bryant University, where a campus eatery, Nick’s Place, is named for him. He was a decorated Navy coxswain in World War II and later attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Colasanto appeared in several feature films including The Counterfeit Killer, Fat City, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot. He starred as mob boss Tommy Como in Raging Bull in 1980. He also directed episodes of popular TV shows including Hawaii Five-O, Starsky and Hutch, Bonanza, and Columbo.

Colasanto was in declining health and preparing to retire when he was offered the role of Coach Ernie Pantusso on Cheers in 1981. He soon became one of the best-loved cast members on the popular show.

Colasanto suffered a heart attack and passed away on February 12, 1985. He is buried in St. Anne Cemetary in Cranston, RI.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.