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‘Porky’s’ Star Tony Ganios Dies at 64 After Emergency Surgery

HomeEntertainment'Porky's' Star Tony Ganios Dies at 64 After Emergency Surgery

Tony Ganios, the Brooklyn-born actor best known for his role as Meat Tuperello in the raunchy teen comedy film series “Porky’s,” died on February 18th at the age of 64. His passing came just one day after undergoing emergency surgery for a severe spinal infection.

Ganios’ fiancée, Amanda Serrano-Ganios, shared the tragic news on social media, writing that his death was sudden and unexpected. “The last words we said to each other were ‘I love you,’” she wrote. “You are everything to me. My heart, my soul and my best friend.”

Serrano-Ganios told reporters that Ganios had felt unwell and hid his illness from her for several days before finally going to the hospital on February 16th. Doctors discovered a dangerous infection in his spinal cord requiring immediate surgery, which lasted over four hours. Though the procedure appeared successful, Ganios’ heart stopped the next morning shortly after being placed on dialysis.

“I’m just completely empty inside now. He was my best friend, my soul mate. I just love him so much,” his grief-stricken fiancée said.

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Launching His Career in ‘The Wanderers’

A New York native, Ganios first stepped in front of the camera in 1979’s coming-of-age drama “The Wanderers,” directed by Philip Kaufman. In the film, he played Perry, a member of a Bronx street gang in the early 1960s.

Ganios made an impression as one of the street toughs alongside co-stars Ken Wahl and Karen Allen. He later re-teamed with Wahl in the 1980s crime series “Wiseguy,” appearing in several episodes as a mob lawyer.

Becoming a Teen Comedy Icon in ‘Porky’s’

But Ganios’ big break came two years later when he landed the role of Anthony “Meat” Tuperello in 1981’s “Porky’s.” The bawdy teen sex comedy centered around a group of Florida high schoolers in the 1950s plotting revenge against a sleazy nightclub owner who humiliated them.

Though poorly reviewed by critics, “Porky’s” became a surprise box office smash – the fifth highest grossing film of 1982. Ganios’ tough but dim-witted Meat quickly emerged as an audience favorite. His chemistry with co-stars Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson and Mark Herrier contributed to the film’s popularity.

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Ganios later reprised the role of Meat in 1983’s “Porky’s II: The Next Day” and 1985’s “Porky’s Revenge!,” cementing his status as a teen comedy icon. To this day, the franchise retains a strong cult following.

Memorable Supporting Film Roles

In addition to the “Porky’s” series, Ganios built up an impressive list of film credits throughout the 1980s and early 90s. Highlights include appearances in 1981’s “Continental Divide” starring John Belushi and Ron Howard’s 1991 action thriller “Backdraft.”

Horror fans know Ganios for his gruesome death scene in 1990’s “Die Hard 2” when Bruce Willis’ iconic hero John McClane kills his villain character by stabbing him in the eye with an icicle.

His last major film role was in the 1993 noir crime drama “Rising Sun” directed by Philip Kaufman and starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. Shortly thereafter, Ganios quietly stepped back from Hollywood.

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Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Actor

The outpouring of grief and condolences on social media shows just how beloved Tony Ganios remained to fans, even decades after his acting peak. Longtime friend and “Wanderers” co-star Ken Wahl wrote, “Rest In Peace Buddy …..I love you.”

Ganios himself acknowledged the special bond he shared with both fellow actors and devoted fans over the years. “We’re like a big, dysfunctional family that for over thirty years has seen each other through marriages, childbirth, divorces, lawsuits, and the tragic loss of one of our own,” he said in a 2015 interview. “Sometimes we feel like strangling one another, but when the chips are down we have always rallied for our mutual aid and defense.”

Tony Ganios leaves behind his heartbroken fianceé Amanda and a lasting mark on teenage comedies of the 1980s. Though only in his mid-60s, his wit, talent and tough but tender screen presence will be deeply missed.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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