Joe Spano Biography

Joe Spano is an American actor best recognized for his role in the series ‘Hill Street Blues.’ Check out this biography to know about his birthday, childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: July 7, 1946

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Age: 73 Years, 73 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Joseph Peter Spano

Born Country: United States

Born in: San Francisco, California, United States

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Joan Zerrien (m. 1980)

father: Vincent Dante Spano

mother: Virginia Jean (née Carpenter)

U.S. State: California

City: San Francisco, California

More Facts

education: University of California, Berkeley, Archbishop Riordan High School

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Joe Spano is an American actor best recognized for his Emmy-nominated role as Lt. Henry Goldblume on the police drama series ‘Hill Street Blues’. Born in San Francisco as the son of a physician, he initially intended to be a pre-med major. However, his growing interest of acting dissipated his intention and took him to Hollywood instead. Following his graduation from the University of California-Berkeley, Spano debuted with his college production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 1967. He then joined Berkeley Repertory Theatre and worked with them for ten years before eventually moving to Hollywood in the late 1970s. He started with guest roles and quickly landed major characters in both films and television shows after proving his mettle. In one of his most popular roles, Spano has been appearing in the recurring role of Tobias Fornell, an FBI Special Agent in NCIS since 2003.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Joe Spano was born on July 7, 1946, in San Francisco, California, USA, to physician Vincent Dante Spano and his wife Virginia Jean.
  • He attended Archbishop Riordan High School and graduated from there in 1963. He later studied at the University of California-Berkeley.
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  • Joe Spano made his acting debut in 1967, with a college production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. A year later, he appeared in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s first production. He worked with them for ten years.
  • In 1972, he made his film debut with a role in the drama film ‘One Is a Lonely Number’. Two years later, he debuted on television, with a minor role in the series ‘The Streets of San Francisco’.
  • Following an uncredited appearance in the neo-noir action thriller ‘The Enforcer’ in 1976, the actor began voicing Pasqually the Chef in the food chain ‘Chuck E. Cheese's’ ad campaigns. He ended the decade with an appearance in the TV drama ‘Lou Grant’.
  • Spano commenced the 1980s with the role of Duff McCoy in the detective/comedy series 'Tenspeed and Brown Shoe'. He next starred in 'The Incredible Shrinking Woman'. Released in 1981, the sci-fi comedy flick was adapted from Richard Matheson's 1956 novel titled ‘The Shrinking Man’.
  • The year 1986 saw him in the crime drama film 'Brotherhood of Justice'. Starring Billy Zane, Lori Loughlin, Kiefer Sutherland and Keanu Reeves, the film is based on the real events that occurred at Texas Paschal High School in 1984.
  • During 1987 and 1988, the actor featured in the TV series ‘Valerie’ and ‘L.A. Law’. He ended the decade with the role of John Saringo in NBC's 'Midnight Caller', a role that won him an Emmy.
  • In the early 1990s, he was seen in the television shows ‘Blind Faith’, ‘Civil Wars’ and ‘Her Costly Affair’ along with the movies ‘Rave Review’ and ‘Primal Fear’.
  • In 1997, Spano joined the cast of the crime drama ‘Profiler’ as Detective Mike Ramdak. That year, he also played the role of Mike Millar in ‘The X-Files’. A year later, he had roles in various TV series, including 'From the Earth to the Moon', 'JAG', 'L.A. Doctors' and 'Nash Bridges'.
  • The actor concluded the decade with his appearance in CBS’ supernatural drama series ‘Touched by an Angel'.
  • In 2000, he was cast as Jonathan Freid in 'Strong Medicine', a medical drama focusing on feminist politics, class conflict and health issues. This was followed by a role in Steve Miner's action western flick 'Texas Rangers' and Albert Pyun’s ‘Ticker’, both of which released in 2001.
  • From 2002 to 2003, Spano portrayed the character of Det. John Clark Sr. in ‘NYPD Blue’. This period also saw him performing in the drama series ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘Hart's War’ and ‘Static Shock’.
  • Following an appearance in ‘Crossing Jordan’ (2006) as Captain Innis, he starred in 'Hollywoodland'. The period mystery film showcased a fictionalized account of the situations surrounding the death of star actor George Reeves in 1959.
  • In 2008, the actor got the opportunity to play Paul Faber in the legal drama TV series ‘Shark’. Two years later, he featured in the drama ‘In Plain Sight’ as Gabe Andrews. He then went on to star in the series ‘The Mentalist’ in 2012.
Major Works
  • From 1981 to 1987, Joe Spano played Henry Goldblume in the police drama series ‘Hill Street Blues’. During the show’s seven-year run, he initially appeared as a detective sergeant and afterwards as a lieutenant. His stunning performance in the series later fetched him roles in many other television police shows.
  • Since 2003, the actor has been playing senior FBI Special Agent Tobias Fornell in the action police procedural drama series ‘NCIS’.
Family & Personal Life
  • Joe Spano married Joan Zerrien, a therapist, in 1980. The couple has two adopted daughters.


Primetime Emmy Awards
1989 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Midnight Caller (1988)

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- Joe Spano Biography
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Last Updated
- August 30, 2019
Joe Spano

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