Mascolo passed away Wednesday, but NBCUniversal announced his death.
“Joseph was a big ‘ol bear with a puppy dog heart. I’m so blessed to have had these many years with him. I will miss him every day,” said his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Last spring, I had a small stroke,” he told Soap Opera Digest in January. “During my rehab, I thought this would be a good time for Stefano to leave.
News of his death spread on social media, and fellow co-stars and fans expressed their condolences.
“So long Joe. I’ll miss you, yet a part of you will always be with me and for that beautiful gift I am so happy and grateful” posted James Scott, who played Stefano’s son EJ DiMera on the soap.
Eileen Davidson, who portrayed Kristen DiMera, tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Joe Mascolo. God bless him and keep him.”
“Just like sand through the hour glass so are the days of our lives. #JosephMascolo RIP,” posted a fan.
Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, Mascolo didn’t initially have acting in mind. In college he studied classical music and had dreams of becoming a conductor, according to his official website. A drama coach overhead his booming basso voice and encouraged him to explore acting.
Becoming a daytime drama villain
Mascolo appeared in a wide-range of television shows, including “All in the Family” and “The Gangster Chronicles,” before moving to daytime drama.
Mascolo is survived by his wife, his son, stepdaughter, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.