Mark Margolis, best known for playing Hector Salamanca on Breaking Bad, has died at age 83.
The late actor’s son, Morgan, announced that his father died in New York City on Thursday, August 3, following a short illness. Margolis’ manager, Robert Kolker, subsequently told TVLine on Friday, August 4: “He was one of a kind. We won’t see his likes again. He was a treasured client and a lifelong friend. I was lucky to know him.”
Born in Philadelphia in 1939, Margolis began studying acting at age 14. At 19, he moved to New York City and began classes with legendary Actors Studio teacher Stella Adler. After establishing himself as a stage actor, Margolis began his long TV career in the early 1980s, appearing in shows including The Equalizer and Quantum Leap.
In the 1990s, Margolis began a lengthy collaboration with director Darren Aronofsky. After starring in 1998’s π, Margolis went on to appear in Aronofsky’s next five movies: Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan and Noah.
While Margolis also had memorable roles in Scarface and the HBO series Oz, contemporary fans know him best as Breaking Bad’s Hector Salamanca, the elderly cartel kingpin who communicates using a bell attached to his wheelchair. Margolis made his debut during the AMC drama’s second season in 2009 and went on to reprise the role in the prequel series Better Call Saul.
In 2012, Margolis earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the show’s fourth season, which famously ended with Salamanca getting his (extremely violent) revenge on Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).
Margolis said in 2012 that he initially thought his Breaking Bad appearance was a one-time thing, but Hector became such a popular character that the writers brought him back. (After Hector died in season 4, fans could ring a bell in his memory on the website HectorSalamanca.com.)
“I was only coming onto Breaking Bad as far as I knew for that one episode, but there’s no accounting for taste, and the fans took a fancy to me,” Margolis told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “Somebody asked me recently, ‘How did you manage to play such a horrible guy?’ and I said, ‘Have you talked to my friends?’ They’ll tell you I’m pretty miserable to begin with.”
Margolis is survived by his wife, Jacqueline (whom he wed in 1962), their son, Morgan, and three grandchildren.