'Law & Order' Actor Paul D'Amato Has Died

D'Amato passed away at 75 after a four-year battle with a rare brain disease.

Frequent Law & Order actor Paul D'Amato has passed away at 75. Patch.com reports that the Slap Shot star died on Feb. 19 after battling progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disease, for four years. Born and raised in Massachusetts, D'Amato worked as a stagehand at 14 years old before deciding to pursue acting. He attended Boston's Emerson College and lived a Troy Bolton-esque life: he appeared in theater productions and was on the ice hockey team.

He had an uncredited role in the 1973 film Magnum Force and appeared in the TV series Code R in 1977. His big break came in 1976 when he was cast as Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken in the 1977 hockey movie Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman. His hockey streak continued with the TV movie The Deadliest Season, which starred Michael Moriarty and Meryl Streep in 1977. The following year, he appeared in The Deer Hunter, once again alongside Streep, as well as Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and more.

D'Amato went on to have small parts in both film and TV and made his first appearance on Law  Order in 1993. He appeared in three different episodes of the NBC legal drama as three different characters in Season 3, Season 10, and Season 13. He also portrayed two different characters on spinoff Law & Order: Criminal Intent in Season 1 and Season 4. The reasoning for the different characters is unknown, but it's definitely not uncommon for an actor to play separate characters on the same show, no matter how many times. It just shows just how much range he had.

Other roles included Light and the Sufferer, The Living Wake, Six Ways to Sunday, and The Opportunists. His last role was in an episode of the short-lived ABC crime dramedy The Unusuals in 2009. Aside from acting, D'Amato's love for hockey never faltered, even in the Hollywood spotlight. He's made appearances at benefit golf tournaments, raising funds for scholarships and even donating his own items and signing them. He was also an active supporter of the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society.

Slap Shot star Steve Carlson took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share his condolences to his family, fellow friends, and actors. Meanwhile, actor and Paul D'Amato's longtime girlfriend took to social media to share her own heartfelt tribute, writing, "He may have played tough bad guys, but a sweeter, kinder, more compassionate man does not exist. Whether skiing down the slopes, riding his motorcycle, skating on the ice, rollerblading through the village, or kayaking on the lake, he lived life to the fullest. His talents were endless, his generosity overflowing, and his dedication to his family and friends unwavering and unmatched. His brilliance as an actor is there for anyone to see, but sharing the stage with him was an actor's dream."