Family & Companions
The often soft-spoken, slightly built Joe Spano came into the public eye after more than a decade as a stage player in the San Francisco Bay Area when he was cast as Det. Henry Goldblume on the acclaimed NBC police drama "Hill Street Blues." The detective eventually romanced the ex-wife of his boss (Daniel J Travanti), who was played by Barbara Bosson, the wife of "Blues" executive producer Steve Bochco. Spano was back with Bochco starting in 1995 as Ray Velachek, a private investigator working for Teddy Hoffman (Daniel Benzali) on the low-rated, but highly regarded ABC series "Murder One."
Although Spano has played mostly supporting parts in TV and films, he was often cast in classical leading roles on stage since his 1967 debut. While a member of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, he played "Hamlet," Brick in "Cat on the Hot Tin Roof" and Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," among a host of other roles. When not on stage, he was a founding member of The Wing, an improvisational troupe. Although he broke into film work with a bit parts in "One Is a Lonely Number" (1972) and George Lucas' "American Graffiti" (1973) and into TV with a guest appearance on the ABC series "The Streets of San Francisco," Spano did not migrate to Southern California until the late 70s. He worked as an episodic guest performer until he was cast in the ensemble of "Hill Street Blues." When that acclaimed series left the air, Spano returned to episodic work, winning a 1989 Emmy for a performance as a death row inmate who proclaims his innocence yet invites a radio call-in show host (Gary Cole) to witness his execution on "Midnight Caller" (NBC). In the 80s and 90s, Spano also did TV longforms as well, including a key role in the miniseries "The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake" (NBC, 1990). Spano was back on series TV as nemesis to Patty Duke in the short-lived "Amazing Grace" (NBC, 1995).
Spano's feature film work has not been as extensive. He has had small roles in features including Alan Rudolph's "Roadie" (1980) and "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981). In 1995, he was the NASA Director in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13." The following year, he was a police captain investigating the murder of an archbishop in "Primal Fear" for director Gregory Hoblit, with whom Spano worked on "Hill Street Blues."
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Stage debut as Paris in "Romeo and Juliet", Berkeley, California
Member Berkeley Repertory Theatre; roles included leads in "Hamlet" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
First film appearance, "One Is a Lonely Number"
Played bit role in "American Graffiti"
TV debut, episode of "The Streets of San Francisco"
TV-movie debut, "Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleir Story"
Appeared in an acclaimed episode of NBC series "Midnight Caller"; won Emmy as Best Guest Actor
Cast as Dominic Corso in short-lived NBC series "Amazing Grace", starring Patty Duke
Had featured role in "Primal Fear", directed by Gregory Hoblit
Made cameo appearance in the Hoblit-directed "Hart's War"
Cast as Howard Strickling, a 'fixer' for MGM studio boss Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins) in "Hollywoodland"