Frank Campbell was born on March 12, 1919 in New York City, New York. His parents were Sicilian immigrants Mary O. and Philip Campanella, a musician. He was the brother of actor Joseph Campanella [1927- ] and spoke mostly Italian growing up; this proved useful during World War II, when he worked as a civilian translator for the U.S. government. Campanella attended Manhattan College, where he studied drama.
Campanella's first film role was as "Mook the Moon-Man" in the 1949 science fiction series Captain Video and His Video Rangers. He went on to appear in more than 100 film and television episodes, usually playing a "tough guy." Campanella appeared as a bartender in Mel Brooks' “The Producers” (1968), starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. He helped Robert De Niro learn Sicilian for his role as young Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's “The Godfather: Part II” (1974). Campanella appeared in only one Euro-western “Blood Red” (1988) as Doctor Scola.
Campanella's early television roles included three appearances as different police lieutenants on the syndicated crime drama, ‘Decoy’ (1957), starring Beverly Garland as the first female police lead in a television series. In one of the ‘Decoy’ episodes, he appeared with his brother, Joseph Campanella. Over his career he appeared, often in police roles, in such well-known series as ‘Ironside’, ‘Mannix’, ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘Chico and the Man’, ‘All in the Family’, ‘Maude’, ‘Rhoda’, and ‘The Love Boat’.
Campanella died of Crohn’s diseas on December 30, 2006 at his home in Los Angeles, California.
Today we remember Frank Campanella on what would have been his 95th birthday.