Antonio Sabato Sr., 'Grand Prix' Star, Dead at 77 After COVID-19 Hospitalization

Antonio Sabato Sr., the Italian American actor who starred in the 1966 all-star racing epic Grand Prix, died earlier this week from complications of the coronavirus. Sabato was 77. His son, actor and model Antonio Sabato Jr. confirmed his father's death in a Jan. 6 Twitter post, alongside an old family photo. "Always and forever," Sabato Jr., who ran for Congress in 2018, wrote.

Sabato was hospitalized on Jan. 4, his son revealed on Twitter. "My papa/dad is in intensive care with covid in California. Lord keep him surrounded by angels and pure God's love & strength within," Sabato Jr. wrote. The following day, he said his father was "not doing good" and his family was not allowed to see him due to coronavirus safety guidelines at the hospital. "Dear Lord, You are the God of the Impossible! There is nothing You cannot do. I come to You now, desperate for a healing miracle for my papa," Sabato Jr. wrote on Jan. 5.

Sabato was born in Montelepre, Italy in 1943 and made his movie debut in 1966 when he starred in John Frankenheimer's Grand Prix as Italian racer Nico Barlini. He went on to star in dozens of Italian and American movies, including the spaghetti westerns One Dollar Too Many and Due volte Giuda. In the 1980s, Sabato and his family moved to the U.S. In 1997, he starred in High Voltage with his son. His final appearance was seven episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful in 2006. He is survived by his son and daughter, Simonne Sabato, reports Variety.

Los Angeles County is in the midst of a deadly post-Christmas surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, just as experts feared. On Friday, county officials reported 17,827 new cases, the day after 18,764 cases were recorded. That was much higher than the 14,000-case average recorded each day last week, reports the Los Angeles Times. About 1 in 5 coronavirus tests are coming back positive each day. In November, 1 in 25 tests was positive.

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“This very clearly is the latest surge from the winter holidays and New Year’s — no question about it,” L.A. County Department of Public Health’s chief science officer, Dr. Paul Simon, told the Times. “It had gradually started earlier in the week, but [definitely] here in the last day or two.” He said the trend will likely continue into next week, noting that hospitals are already "strained, extremely overextended."

In early December, about 30 Los Angeles County residents were dying each day, but that number is now averaging to 190 people dying each day. On Friday alone, 318 deaths were reported in Los Angeles County, topping the record 291 deaths reported on Dec. 31. In the entire state of California, there were 676 deaths.