Salvatore A. Darigo Sr., a Philadelphia police officer who had a second career as an actor, died Sunday, July 11, at Nazareth VITAS Hospice from complications from strokes. He was 80.
Mr. Darigo was born and raised in South Philadelphia, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Darigo. He graduated from Lincoln Preparatory High School and spent his early years working in the family business, Darigo’s Fish and Seafood Market in the Italian Market. He also earned his barber license at the behest of his father, who wanted Mr. Darigo to “always have a skill to fall back on.”
Mr. Darigo served in the United States Air Force, then after returning to Philadelphia, he entered the Police Academy, working as a beat cop and in Highway Patrol.
Even after his retirement from the police force in the mid-1980s, Mr. Darigo kept busy. He inherited his uncle’s glazing and residential glass business, calling himself “The Glassman.” He never worked formally as a barber, but would always cut hair for family or friends who needed a trim, and kept sharp the scissors of all his barbering friends.
Mr. Darigo was a lifetime arts aficionado, an admirer of film, acting, and writing. He wrote short stories and plays. When a close friend invited him to be an extra on a film shoot, Mr. Darigo was hooked. He worked as a supporting actor in such films as 12 Monkeys, Oceans 12, Transformers, The Irishman, Creed, The Sixth Sense, and Invincible, and on television shows like The Sopranos and Law and Order: SVU, as well as commercials and plays, his family said.
He was an active member of the Philadelphia chapter of the SAG-AFTRA, and his expertise as a born-and-bred South Philadelphia Italian came in handy. When Mr. Darigo played Mick, a neighborhood guy who frequented a bar in the movie Invincible, fellow actors would crowd around him, asking for tips on perfecting their accents.
A thrill of Mr. Darigo’s life came on the set of The Irishman, when Mr. Darigo was sitting with another actor between takes. Martin Scorsese approached Mr. Darigo, who was playing a barber. The legendary director smiled at the gregarious Mr. Darigo as Mr. Darigo pretended he would give Scorsese a haircut next. “Hey, pal, you’re up next!,” Mr. Darigo quipped.
That was classic Mr. Darigo, his daughter Rosemary Darigo said.
“My dad was not a guy who deferred to your station,” Rosemary Darigo said. “Everyone else said, ‘It’s Martin Scorsese, don’t look!’ My dad said, ‘He’s just an Italian guy like me.’”
It was an endless source of wonder to Mr. Darigo that he spent many of his retirement years working as an actor, not searching for a big break but working for the joy of it.
“He got such a kick out of it,” Rosemary Darigo said.
Mr. Darigo, a longtime Rhawnhurst resident, cherished his family, including his wife of 55 years, Deanna Minick Darigo; his son, Sal Jr.; and his daughter.
He loved dogs — especially cherished pets Trixie and Patches — and was a member of the Liberty Bell Coin Club. Mr. Darigo was also an avid outdoorsman who hunted, fished, and spent time with his family at the Conewaugo Rod and Gun Club in Elizabethtown, Pa.
In addition to his wife, son, and daughter, Mr. Darigo is survived by two brothers and a large extended family.
A viewing will be held 11 a.m. Friday, July 16, at John F. Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19154. A funeral service will follow at 1 p.m. Burial will be private.
Memorial donations may be made to VITAS Hospice at Nazareth Hospital, 2601 Holme Ave., 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, Pa. 19152.