The Stargate family mourns today at the passing of actor Carmen Argenziano. The veteran stage and screen actor died Saturday at the age of 75.
Born to an Italian family in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, in 1943, Carmen left home at the age of 18 to study acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In a 1996 interview with the L.A. Times he said that he was “kind of a shy, introverted young man” who wanted “to become forceful, to be something other than what I was, which seemed pretty well-contained and not terribly exciting to me.”
He found work selling concessions at Broadway shows before moving to Hollywood in 1966, where he took up residence at the famous Actors Studio (where he would become a lifetime member). There he mopped the floors to earn his keep, and participated in as many acting workshops as he could.
His acting career spanned nearly 50 years, beginning in earnest in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He landed a high-profile gig as a henchman to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in The Godfather, Part II. His work on the big screen also included The Accused and Stand and Deliver.
Carmen’s early television work included Kojak, Columbo, and The Rockford Files. In the 1980s and 90s his credits include the classics of the era — from The A-Team, Cheers, and L.A. Law to Melrose Place and 21 Jump Street.
In a 2006 interview with GateWorld, Carmen described his career as that of a “journeyman” actor. “I remember an old acting teacher that told me, ‘Drama is revelation,'” he said. “The more you work on a role or character the more you discover about him. And in some cases there is self-discovery, too.”
In the end he had well over 200 acting credits to his name. He won an L.A. Drama Critics award for his role as a troubled police detective in the stage play “A Prayer For My Daughter.” And in 2016 he made his directorial debut on the stage.
News of his passing was first announced by close friends on social media, and has been confirmed by one of his agents.
Carmen was among Stargate SG-1‘s best-known (and most loved) recurring guest stars, with some 25 appearances under his belt. He made his debut as Sam’s dad Jacob Carter in the second season episode “Secrets,” and in subsequent episodes the character was blended with the Tok’ra symbiote Selmak. The experience saved Jacob’s life from terminal cancer, and made him an important liaison between Earth and its new allies.
The show’s writers did in fact consider killing off the character in Season Two, but changed directions to make him a Tok’ra — and one of the show’s longest-running recurring roles.
Jacob’s story came to an end in Season Eight, when the character died a hero’s death in the episode “Threads.”
“I was a recurring role [on Stargate] and it went on for about six years,” Carmen told GateWorld. “And it was a wonderful, wonderful experience working with Amanda and the rest of the cast and going up to Vancouver. And I enjoyed it, but all things come to an end.”
“This series has been wonderful for me,” he said. “More people recognize me as Jacob Carter than any other character I’ve played. I have a wonderful affinity for old Jacob.”
He said his favorite episode he did was “The Tok’ra, Part 2” — in which Jacob receives the symbiote that would transform his life. Second to that was “Threads.”
As he played Samantha Carter’s father on the show, off screen he was also a father figure to actress Amanda Tapping and other members of the cast.
“Amanda is so supportive and so warm. She’s such a positive influence on the set,” Carmen told GateWorld in 2007. “She knows everyone’s name. Always up. Always supportive. Always helping. Always contributing.
“And I remember when I was struggling a little bit with some lines of some dialogue in the first episode. She just held my hand and made a connection. And I’ve loved her ever since, actually.”
Carmen Argenziano has a number of still unreleased projects, according to his IMDb page. Among them is the indie film Preacher Six, in which he plays Father Gabriel. The movie filmed late last year.
GateWorld had the joy of interviewing Carmen face-to-face on two occasions: once in 2006 (“The Journeyman”) and again in 2007 (“Father Figure,” available in audio). Carmen was warm and personable, down to Earth, and even in the midst of the bustle of a fan convention he was always ready to stop and give fans a good memory — a picture, an autograph, or just a moment of his time.
Stargate has “brought me a recognition that I’ve never had before with the wonderful fan base and the conventions, and meeting people whose lives have been so wonderfully, positively influenced by the show,” he said. “By what we do. By what we bring to them and their lives. That’s the whole reason we become actors, or at least I did, is to influence people’s lives in a positive way. To give them hope. To let them identify with what’s possible, who they are, what they may become.”
Our condolences go out to Carmen’s family and loved ones. And we celebrate his life, his work, and his remarkable contribution to our lives.
Do you have a personal memory of Carmen you would like to share? We invite you to post below, or over on this thread at GateWorld Forum!