'Days of Our Lives' star Joseph Mascolo, who played Stefano, dead at 87

Joseph Mascolo, who played iconic villain Stefano DiMera on the NBC daytime soap Days of Our Lives, has died. He was 87 years old.

Mascolo passed away Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, the show said in a statement on Friday. He joined the Days cast in 1982 and made crime lord/business tycoon Stefano DiMera into one of the most hated (and most loved) bad guys in soap-opera history.

Mascolo left and returned to the role of Stefano several times over the years, even joining CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful for an extended stint from 2001 to 2006. But he always came back to Days, most recently for the character's death earlier this year. He also made appearances on TV shows like All in the Family and Lou Grant, and in films like Jaws 2 and Sharky's Machine.

See photos of Joseph Mascolo throughout his life:

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Joseph Mascolo throughout his life
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Joseph Mascolo throughout his life
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
CIRCA 1972: Actors Joseph Mascolo and Richard Roundtree on set of the movie 'Shaft's Big Score!', circa 1972. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera -- (Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Hill Street Blues -- 'I Want My Hill Street Blues' Episode 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joseph Mascolo as Melvin Jardino, Robert Prosky as Sgt. Stan Jablonski -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TORRANCE, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actor Joseph Mascolo attends the 16th Annual Tracy Austin Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament to Benefit the South Bay Children's Health Center on October 23, 1993 at the West End Racquet and Health Club in Torrance, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'Tony DiMera & Kristen Blake Wedding' -- Pictured: (l-r) Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: (l-r) Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera, Tanya Boyd as Celeste Perrault (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 32 -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera as Elvis Presley (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 15: THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL 17th Season cast photo. Back Row (L-R) Schae Harrison, Darlene Conley, Winsor Harmon, Susan Flannery, Bobbie Eakes, John McCook, Maeve Quinlan. Middle Row (L-R) Daniel McVicar, Brian Gaskill, Ronn Moss, Joseph Mascolo, Lesley-Anne Down, Sydney Penny. Front Row (L-R) Justin Torkildsen, Sean Kanan, Adrienne Frantz, Jennifer Finnigan, Katherine Kelly Lang, Jack Wagner. (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images)
Joseph Mascolo during 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Creative Arts Awards - Arrivals at Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 14: The Men of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, 2004. Left to right: Daniel McVicar, Ronn Moss, Jack Wagner, Sean Kanan, Joseph Mascolo, Drew Tyler Bell, Lorenzo Lamas, Justin Torkildsen, John McCook, Winsor Harmon. (Photo by Tony Esparza/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Actress Lesli Kay (L) and actor Joseph Mascolo (R) attend 'The Bold and The Beautiful' five years of Spanish Simulcast celebration at the CBS Studios on April 25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Joseph Mascolo during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 24: Actor Joseph Mascolo and his guest attend 'The Bold And The Beautiful' gala celebrating the show's 20 year anniversary on the air at Two Rodeo Drive on March 24, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Joseph Mascolo and Sharbie Higuchi during The 8th Annual Pageant of The Masters Gala Benefit - Hosted by Teri Hatcher at Irvine Bowl Park in Laguna Beach, CA, United States. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage for Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters)
LAGUNA BEACH, CA - AUGUST 23: Actress Patrika Darbo and actor Joseph Mascolo arrive at the Laguna Beach 10th Annual Pageant Of The Masters Gala Event >> on August 23, 2008 in Laguna Beach, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 22: *EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE* Joseph Mascolo attends the Evening With The Stars at the W Hotel on November 22, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 29: Actor Joseph Mascolo arrives at the launch party for Executive Producer Ken Corday's new book 'The Days Of Our Lives: The Untold Story of One Family's Dream and the True History of Days Of Our Lives' on April 29, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
LAGUNA BEACH, CA - AUGUST 28: Actor Joseph Mascolo and his wife attend the 2010 Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters gala on August 28, 2010 in Laguna Beach, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/WireImage)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 44 -- Pictured: (top row l-r) Bryan Dattilo as Lucas Horton, Nadia Bjorlin as Chloe Horton, Lauren Koslow as Kate Roberts, Shawn Christian as Dr. Daniel Jonas, Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera, John Aniston as Victor Kiriakis, Eric Martsolf as Brady Black, Josh Taylor as Roman Brady, James Scott as EJ DiMera, Arianne Zucker as Nicole Walker (2nd row l-r) Casey Jon Deidrick as Chad Peterson-Woods (3rd row l-r) Jim Reynolds as Abe Carver, Renee Jones as Lexie Carver, Dylan Michael Patton as Will Roberts, Taylor Spreitler as Mia McCormick, Shelley Hennig as Stephanie Johnson, Jay Johnson as Philip Kiriakis, Mark Hapka as Nathan Horton, Molly Burnett as Melanie Layton, Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Horton, Glane Gering as Rafe Hernandez, Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady, NBC Entertainment Senior VP Current Series Bruce Evans, Days Of Our Lives Executive Producer Gary Tomlin (bottom row l-r) Terrell Ransom Jr. as Theo Carver, Peggy McCay as Caroline Brady, Peter Reckell as Bo Brady, Kristian Alfonso as Hope Brady, Lauren Boles as Clara Brady -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 45 -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera -- (Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 45 -- Pictured: (l-r) Chandler Massey as Will Horton, Bill Hayes as Doug Williams, Josh Taylor as Roman Brady, Susan Seaforth Hayes as Julie Williams, Camilla Banus as Gabi Hernandez, Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Horton, Peter Reckell as Bo Brady, Galen Gering as Rafe Hernandez, Kristian Alfonso as Hope Brady, Casey Deidrick as Chad Woods, Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady, James Reynolds as Abe Carver, Lauren Koslow as Kate Roberts DiMera, Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera, Renee Jones as Lexie Carver, Jay Kenneth Johnson as Philip Kiriakis, Nadia Bjorlin as Chloe Lane, John Aniston as Victor Kiriakis, Eric Martsolf as Brady Black, Wally Kurth as Justin Kiriakis, Arianne Zucker as Nicole Walker DiMera, Louise Sorel as Vivian Alamain, Crystal Chappell as Carly Manning, James Scott as EJ DiMera, Peggy McCay as Caroline Brady, Melissa Reeves as Jennifer Horton, Molly Burnett as Melanie Layton, Mark Hapka as Nathan Horton, Judi Evans as Adrienne Kiriakis, Shawn Christian as Daniel Jonas, Shelley Hennig as Stephanie Johnson -- Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
Joseph Mascolo (L) and wife attend 'Days Of Our Lives' 45th anniversary party at House of Blues Sunset Strip on November 6, 2010 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- '35th Anniversary' -- Pictured: (l-r) Peter Reckell as Bo Brady, Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera, Drake Hogestyn as John Black -- (Photo by: Jeff Katz/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 48 -- Pictured: Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: (L-R) Judi Evans Meredith Scott Lynn, Jen Lilley, Mary Beth Evans, Casey Moss, and Joseph Mascolo attend the 'Days Of Our Lives' cast member book signing for 'Days Of Our Lives Better Living: Cast Secrets For A Healthier Balanced Life' at Barnes & Noble Booksellers on September 27, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)
BURBANK, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: (L-R) Casey Moss and Joseph Mascolo attend the 'Days Of Our Lives' cast member book signing for 'Days Of Our Lives Better Living: Cast Secrets For A Healthier Balanced Life' at Barnes & Noble Booksellers on September 27, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actor Joseph Mascolo attends the Days Of Our Lives' 50th Anniversary Celebration at Hollywood Palladium on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Days Of Our lives)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 21 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joseph Mascolo as Stefano DiMera -- (Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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"It is with great sorrow that I'm sharing the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved member of the Days of Our Lives family, Joseph Mascolo," Days executive producer Ken Corday said 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."

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