Julio Oscar Mechoso, an actor admired by his peers for his ability to take on almost any type of role, died Nov. 25 of a heart attack. He was 62.
The Cuban-born, Miami-raised actor never hit stardom, but won wide respect for his dedication and ability to inhabit wildly different comedic and dramatic roles.
"'He was a utility player who could do anything, be a lead in a sitcom like 'Greetings From Tucson' and then a vicious Mexican narcotrafficker in ‘Kingpin’ and then a quirky demon who works part time as a limo driver taking souls to Hell in 'From Dusk Till Dawn,'" said producer Juan Carlos Coto, according to the Miami Herald. "He played them all with such spirit and such life that you just couldn't top watching him."
"He was an actor with a capital A," said producer Peter Murrieta.
Mechoso got his start on television with a role in the sitcom "Que pasa, U.S.A?" From there he went on to appear in major television shows like "Miami Vice," "Seinfeld," "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Big Bang Theory," according to the Internet Movie Database.
His resume also included roles in popular movies, including "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Legend of Zorro" and "Jurassic Park III."
Mechoso was type-cast as a tough guy before he had the opportunity to branch out with a comedic role in the sitcom "Greetings From Tucson."
"He was a very funny guy," said his daughter Melinda, according to the Miami Herald. "He was an entertainer. If you look at his old school pictures from Miami, the people around him always have big smiles, because he’s doing something to make them laugh. He loved do that. He would never let anyone else talk at the dinner table -- he had too many stories to tell."
One of Mechoso's enduring personal and professional relationships was with fellow Cuban actor Andy Garcia, best known for his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Godfather Part III."
The two were classmates at Florida International University and remained close friends through the years, working together on multiple movies, including "Internal Affairs," "The Lost City" and "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"A sudden loss is always unjust, but in the case of Julio Oscar Mechoso, my friend, my soulmate, it is greater than that, as I have lost the truest of friends," Garcia said in a statement. "Julio is a unique and extraordinary artist. I say 'is,' because his artistry will carry on and will be present in all that will witness it. That will never die."
"I always wanted Julio with me in any work that I was doing, because Julio always elevated the film," Garcia continued. "Working with him was for me an effortless privilege. We got off on each other, we laughed, we cried together. He was an actor's actor. We all knew what he was capable of delivering, and it was always quite extraordinary."
Mechoso is survived by his wife Linda and their three children, Melina, J.J. and C.J.