“Slap Shot” Actor Paul D'Amato Dead at 75: 'Most Wonderful, Sweetest Guy'

Paul D'Amato played the antagonist Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken in the 1977 cult classic hockey movie 'Slap Shot,' starring Paul Newman

<p>Universal/Alamy</p> Paul D


Paul D'Amato in 1977's 'Slap Shot'

Paul D'Amato, the actor best known for portraying Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken in the 1977 hockey movie Slap Shot, died on Tuesday, according to multiple outlets. He was 75.

Former professional hockey player Steve Carlson, who also appeared in Slap Shot, also mourned D'Amato in a post he shared on X (formerly known as Twitter).

"RIP Paul D'Amato. Sending heart felt condolences to Family and fellow friends, actors🌹 #ripdrhook," Carlson wrote in his post, which featured an image of D'Amato in the classic 1977 sports comedy.

The actor died at his home in East Brookfield, Massachusetts, Monday from a brain disease called progressive supranuclear palsy, as The Hollywood Reporter and a Patch Media outlet reported. D'Amato had been suffering from the disease for four years, both outlets reported.

“He was the most wonderful, sweetest guy, he fought so hard against this horrendous disease,” D'Amato's fiancée Marina Re told THR.

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<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Slap Shot


Slap Shot

D'Amato was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and raised in nearby Spencer. He began working as a stage hand as a teenager, studied speech and theatre at Boston's Emerson College and played for the school's hockey team after serving in the army for a period of time, according to Patch and a 2014 interview with D'Amato in Worcester Magazine.

D'Amato told the latter outlet that he landed his Slap Shot role after telling his agent that 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," he recalled at that time.

" 'You have an audition at Sky Rink; Paul Newman is doing a hockey film.' " he continued. "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."

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Slap Shot starred Newman as a player-coach of a struggling Pennsylvania minor league hockey team called the Charlestown Chiefs, who amplify the amount of violence in their games as a strategy to make the team more popular.

The film marked D'Amato's third onscreen role after an uncredited appearance in 1973's Magnum Force and an appearance in a 1977 episode of Code R. D'Amato notably played antagonist Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken, a player on the team the Chiefs play in their league championship game.

"I gotta tell you, first line I ever had in a movie – first job, first line – I'm looking at my idol Butch Cassidy, I’m looking at the guy that did Cool Hand Luke, I’m looking at the guy who did The Sting and I have to look him in the eye and say, 'Dunlop! You s--k c--k!' " he told Worcester Magazine of acting opposite Newman. "I was a little nervous. Working with Newman was like working with a friend. He was great, he was accessible. He was that easy."

<p>Silver Screen Collection/Getty</p> Paul Newman (left), Yvan Ponton, Stephen Mendillo and Allan F Nicholls in 'Slap Shot'

Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Paul Newman (left), Yvan Ponton, Stephen Mendillo and Allan F Nicholls in 'Slap Shot'

D'Amato continued to act for decades following his role in Slap Shot. He made various appearances on Law & Order and its spinoff series Criminal Intent in the 1990s and 2000s and appeared in movies like 1978's The Deer Hunter and 1997's Six Ways to Sunday.

He is credited with undertaking 25 roles total on IMDb, having last appeared on screen in a 2009 episode of ABC's The Unusuals.

The actor, who also acted on the stage off-Broadway, spent his later years working at a ski shop in Westminster, Massachusetts, per a 2019 Worcester Telegram & Gazette article. He is survived by his fiancée, Re, and a sister, Andrea.

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