On May 9, actor Geno Silva passed away in Los Angeles of complications from frontotemporal degeneration, a form of dementia. He was 72 years old. Silva was best known for playing The Skull, the hitman who ultimately takes out Al Pacino‘s Tony Montana in the climax of 1983’s classic Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma.
Silva was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 20, 1948. He went on to have a career both on stage and screen. In 1994, he appeared with Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz in The Merchant of Venice, a Peter Sellars’ production that played in Chicago, London, Paris and Hamburg, Germany. In 1999, he and Ortiz worked off-Broadway in Sueño, written by future Oscar nominee Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries).
In Scarface, Silva’s brooding character never utters a single word while he guns down Montana with a shotgun from behind at the end. Yet his popularity clearly resonated with fans, as one poll ranked The Skull number 7 on a list of the best henchmen in movie history.
Silva was no stranger to big features, starring in David Lynch’s critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive (2001) with Naomi Watts. His credits extend to Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), A Man Apart (2003) from F. Gary Gray, 1941 (1979) as well as Tequila Sunrise (1988). He also made it on to television as a regular on the 1993 Fox drama Key West, later appearing on episodes of Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, Walker, Texas Ranger, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Alias.
Silva is survived by his wife Pamela, his sister Elizabeth, his daughter Lucia, and his grandchildren Eva and Levon.