'Days of our Lives' Star Who Played Iconic Villain Stefano DiMera Dies

Joseph Mascolo, the actor who portrayed villain Stefano DiMera on "Days of our Lives," passed away on Thursday, Decemeber 8 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 87.

"It is with great sorrow that we share the news the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved member of the Days of our Lives family, Joseph Mascolo," the show's Executive Producer Ken Corday told Soap Opera Digest in a statement. "The smile on Joe's face is something we'd all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades, and will live on in the memories of his many fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time."

The actor first joined "Days" in 1983, when he originated the DiMera role. He'd play the show's bad boy from 1983-1985, again in 1988 and from 1993-2001. In 2001, he began playing Massimo Marone on CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful," but ultimately left that series to once again return to "Days."

His character was killed off for good earlier this year.

Mascolo is survived by his wife, son, step-daughter, sister and brother-in-law, as well as five grandchildren.

"Joseph was a big 'ol bear with a puppy dog heart. I'm so blessed to have had these many years with him. I will miss him every day," his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo added in a statement.