Slap Shot star Paul D’Amato dead at 76, his cause of death revealed

Actor Paul D'Amato in the movie Slap Shot
Slap Shot star Paul D’Amato has passed away. Pic credit: Universal Pictures.

Paul D’Amato, known for portraying Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken alongside Paul Newman in Slap Shot, passed away on Monday.

His cause of death is attributed to a prolonged struggle with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. D’Amato was 76 years old.

His longtime partner, Marina Re, confirmed his death on social media with a lengthy tribute.

In part, the tribute read the following, “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.”

D’Amato’s extensive resume featured appearances on popular television shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, Law & Order, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, along with numerous stage performances.

He was also involved in founding a few theater companies in New York City. D’Amato met Re for the first time while working together in a play in 2002.

Paul D’Amato’s ice hockey skills helped land him a role in Slap Shot

D’Amato hailed from Worcester and was raised in Spencer, Massachusetts. His journey into acting began at the young age of around 14 when he started working as a stagehand, igniting his passion for acting. Balancing his pursuits as an athlete and actor, he participated in theater productions and played on the ice hockey team during his time at Emerson College. 

D’Amato’s ability to excel on the ice helped secure his role in Slap Shot. He showcased his hockey skills while playing college hockey at Emerson and as a member of The Reds team in a Burlington, Vermont, league back in 1975.

D’Amato told Worcester Magazine in 2014 that he landed his Slap Shot role after telling his agent he was a college hockey player. “About a month later I got a call from my agent, ‘You play hockey right? Do you still skate?’ I said I did. ‘You have an audition at Sky Rink; Paul Newman is doing a hockey film.’ At the audition I look out, they’re already on the ice but they can’t skate and my heart almost leapt out of my chest because I realized at that point I had a shot, that I was better than these guys.”

Slap Shot actor Steve Carlson paid tribute to Paul D’Amato

Former professional ice hockey forward Steve Carlson, known for portraying Steve Hanson, one of the iconic Hanson brothers from Slap Shot, paid tribute to him on X.

In Slap Shot, Paul Newman stars as the player-coach of the Charlestown Chiefs, a struggling minor league hockey team based in Pennsylvania. The team adopts a strategy of increasing violence during games to boost their popularity.

For D’Amato, Slap Shot represented his third onscreen role, following an uncredited appearance in 1973’s Magnum Force and a role in a 1977 episode of Code R.

Other tributes poured in on X from fans fond of his memorable role in the movie. 

One account called Slap Shot the best hockey movie of all time, while paying tribute to D’Amato. 

Another shared a photo of the late actor and his pivotal role in the movie. 

D’Amato is survived by his sister Andrea and fiancee Marina Re.

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