|First appearance January 18, 1982|
Created by Pat Falken Smith
Played by Joseph Mascolo
|Last appearance February 9, 2017|
Introduced by Betty CordayAl Rabin
Stepson Tony DiMera
|Portrayed by Joseph Mascolo (1982–88, 1993–2017)Frank Fata (1991)Davide Shiavone (2007; young Stefano)|
Significant others Daphne DiMera, Vivian Alamain, Kate Roberts
Sons André DiMera, Benjy Hawk, EJ DiMera, Chad DiMera
Children Tony DiMera, Renée DuMonde, Megan Hathaway, Lexie Carver, Chad DiMera, Kristen DiMera
Daughters Renée DuMonde, Megan Hathaway, Lexie Carver
Similar Marlena Evans, John Black, Victor Kiriakis, Jack Deveraux and Jenni, Bo Brady and Hope Williams
Stefano DiMera was a fictional character featured in the American soap opera Days of Our Lives. Created by head writer Pat Falken Smith, he was portrayed by actor Joseph Mascolo. Stefano is the patriarch of the DiMera family and the father of Renée DuMonde, Megan Hathaway, Benjy Hawk, Lexie Carver (née Brooks), EJ DiMera and Chad DiMera and the stepfather of Antony DiMera; He is also the adoptive father of Peter and Kristen Blake. For a brief period, he believed he was the half-brother of longtime nemesis John Black. He had a nephew, André DiMera, who through plastic surgery became identical to Antony. In 2015, André was revealed to be Stefano's son. Stefano is the ex-husband of Kate Roberts and Vivian Alamain. Stefano first entered the show as a wealthy European businessman who relocated to Salem, and gradually revealed substantial ties to organized crime, both at home and abroad. Over the years Stefano's character has fluctuated between that of a crime lord (both on local and international scales), political terrorist, ruthless business tycoon, and loving (albeit heavy-handed) family man. Soap Opera Digest named him the all-time best villain.
Casting and development
In the early 1980s, then head writer, Pat Falken Smith created the role specifically for Mascolo after seeing his performance as real-life crime boss, Salvatore Maranzano on the NBC miniseries, The Gangster Chronicles in 1981. Mascolo first appeared as Stefano on January 18, 1982. He departed from the series on March 8, 1983, and returned a year later on March 2, 1984 before briefly departing on May 11, 1984 only to return on October 19 and depart again on February 22, 1985. Mascolo briefly returned to the series from November 4 to December 19, 1988. Actor Frank Fata appeared in the role of Stefano for two episodes which aired on December 3 and 4, 1991. Mascolo reclaimed the role on a contractual basis on September 17, 1993. He departed from the show on December 24, 1996, and re-appeared for a few episodes from February 7 to 13, 1997. Mascolo returned to the show full-time once again on June 13, 1997.
Controversial '01 exit
In late February 2001, a post on Mascolo's official website revealed that contract negotiations were not going well and Mascolo was expected to last appear in May. However, a representative of Mascolo's took to the website to deny the reports. In April 2001, rumors of Mascolo's exit due to failed contract negotiations began to surface once again and the producers were apparently considering recasting the role. Days later, Mascolo was spotted at CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful; despite the reports, neither Mascolo, NBC or CBS would comment on the rumors. In May 2001, Mascolo took to his website to confirm the news:
My contract is up in May and I tried to negotiate in good faith... Usually, one expects some give and take but the powers that be are adamant. They now feel that the character of Stefano should take a rest – as if Stefano ever rests.
Though Mascolo seemed disappointed with the show's decision to write the character out briefly, executive producer Ken Corday revealed plans to bring the character back by the fall of 2001 whether Mascolo was available or not. Mascolo made his last official appearance on June 14, 2001. Though Mascolo initially denied the reports, he did indeed debut in the role of Massimo Marone on The Bold and the Beautiful in August 2001.
'06 Return and storyline-dictated exit
In the fall of 2006, following Mascolo's exit from B&B due to lack of storyline, reports began to surface claiming that Mascolo was going to reprise his role as Stefano. The series' producers later confirmed plans to revive the DiMera family in order to stop a decline in ratings. A deathly ill, comatose Stefano began appearing on December 19, 2006. Though some sources list Mascolo in the cast credits for the episodes, neither Mascolo nor NBC have ever stated that he portrayed comatose Stefano. It was later confirmed that Mascolo would reappear in the role officially in 2007, along with costars Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera) and Leann Hunley (Anna DiMera). Mascolo made his first official appearance as Stefano on June 6, 2007. However the stint proved to be short-lived with Mascolo last appearing on February 29, 2008 and the character of Stefano was written out to allow the writers to come up with more story for him. In May 2008, the tabloid Globe confirmed that Mascolo had been fired and Stefano was written into another coma. This decision did not sit well with Mascolo who gave a heated interview to Soap Opera Digest accusing the executives of "double crossing" him.
'08 Return, brief '12 departure, '16 exit, and '17 culmination
In the summer of 2008, it was confirmed that Mascolo would once again reprise his role as Stefano in August 2008. Mascolo later revealed in an interview that his initial anger was fueled by emotion following the death of his father. Following his initial ousting, fans took to his website to express how much they missed the character. The fan fervor allowed for Mascolo's return upon a mutual agreement with executive producer, Ken Corday. Mascolo reappeared on August 5, 2008 just before Days went on hiatus for the Summer Olympics. In 2012, after breaking up the character's marriage to Lauren Koslow's Kate Roberts, making him responsible for his own daughter Lexie Carver's (Renée Jones) death and undoing his father/son relationship with James Scott's EJ DiMera, the character appeared to have been written into a corner. With nearly the entire town gunning for Stefano, several sources later confirmed that Stefano was indeed being killed off with Mascolo last appearing alive on June 4, 2012. Mascolo discussed his disapproval in an interview with Soap Opera Digest:
Every single thing that went wrong in Salem was Stefano’s fault. Every single thing. He got blamed for everything. When Stefano got blamed for this business with Lexie illness, I got very angry. Stefano and his daughter had an absolutely pure relationship. I adore Renee Jones (Lexie). When she came to my dressing room and said, "I’m going to be leaving soon, and this is what is going to happen," I said, "Oh, no!"
It was very difficult. The bottom line Stefano is Will always be about family. So when they wrote that, I couldn’t figure it out. In all honesty, Stefano nor EJ would have had wanted it that way. As a matter of fact when James Scott (EJ) saw the business that Elvis wasn’t Stefano’s son, we both went, "No, that’s wrong." We didn’t want it that way.
On June 13, 2012, Mascolo goes off-screen following the character's funeral. Despite what was happening on-screen, certain sources reported that Mascolo could possibly reprise his role very soon. Following the change in head writers, it was confirmed that Mascolo was indeed on his way back; he made his first appearance on August 21, 2012. Mascolo discussed that the plan was always to have Stefano turn out to be alive, but he didn't agree with how the previous writing regime had scripted the story. With the return of former show runners Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell, Mascolo seemed more "intrigued" with their plans for his character. Mascolo's return also coincides with Eileen Davidson's return as Stefano's daughter Kristen. Mascolo reappeared as Stefano on October 8, 2012.
Due to Mascolo's own failing health, he departed the soap, last appearing on January 11, 2016. Mascolo made guest appearances on March 1, March 2, May 20, June 8 and July 7, 2016.
Mascolo died on December 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 87 after years of battling Alzheimer's disease.
In early 2017, it was announced that Mascolo had filmed scenes prior to his death. Mascolo last appeared onscreen on February 9, 2017. However, it was later revealed that Mascolo appeared Shane Donovan who was posing as Stefano.
Stefano first appears on-screen in January 1982 with his son Tony DiMera (Thaao Penghlis) surveying the citizens of Salem. Stefano travels to Salem shortly after being introduced as the friend of Lee DuMonde (Brenda Benet) and it is soon revealed he is the father of Lee's daughter, Renée (Philece Sampler), which adds complications to her relationship with Tony. Stefano attempts to help Tony win back his wife, Liz Chandler while Stuart Whyland begins blackmailing him and Stefano kills him. In 1983, Stefano is sent to prison thanks to Detective Roman Brady (Wayne Northrop). Before his death, Stefano's wife, Daphne (Madlyn Rhue), reveals that Tony isn't his biological son. Stefano returns in 1984 with his nephew, André, who has gotten plastic surgery to look like Tony. Together they plan to frame Roman for a string of murders; meanwhile Stefano discovers another daughter, Megan Hathaway. Her adoptive father, Maxwell, had access to the "Three Prisms" that could cure Stefano's brain tumor. In November 1984, in his quest to obtain one of the prisms, Stefano apparently kills Roman after pushing him off a cliff. In February 1985, Bo Brady's (Peter Reckell) wife Hope (Kristian Alfonso) is framed for Megan's murder and Stefano vows revenge on the entire family. He kidnaps Roman's twins, Sami and Eric, and Roman's widow Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) shoots him, apparently killing him.
Stefano resurfaces in 1988 to claim his son Benjy who is about to be adopted by Kayla Brady (Mary Beth Evans) and her husband Steve Johnson (Stephen Nichols), as well as to attempt to "reprogram" Roman, whom he had brainwashed in 1984–85, to serve as one of his assassins (Stefano actually got the idea about brainwashing his "agents" from former daughter-in-law Anna DiMera (Leann Hunley), who had hypnotized her own daughter Carrie into acting out against Roman as part of a plot to discredit him in the eyes of polite society). He traps several of Salem's citizens on his island but his plans for revenge are foiled and he escapes. In this iteration, Stefano is presented as more of an assassin and international terrorist than a simple gangster.
In December 1991, John Black (Drake Hogestyn) and Roman Brady discover Stefano in a Mayan pyramid in Mexico. The pyramid collapses and Stefano is once again believed to have perished. Though he survives the collapse, his brain tumor is slowly killing him. Stefano returns to Salem in 1993 and he is taken hostage by Curtis Reed (Nick Benedict) in his weakened state; Curtis's attempt to extort money from Stefano's adopted daughter, Kristen Blake (Eileen Davidson), is foiled after Stefano kills him. He then convinces Tony and Kristen to marry but the marriage is ruined when Stefano is revealed as the murderer. In an attempt to avoid capture, Stefano speeds away as John shoots out his tires and Stefano's car explodes. Stefano retreats to his New Orleans estate, Maison Blanche where he kidnaps Marlena and John. After the mansion burns down, Stefano buys a penthouse in Salem, next door to Marlena. Stefano sneaks into her apartment every night and opens her soul, which leads to Marlena becoming possessed by a demon. Under possession, Marlena pushes Stefano out of a window; after the demon is exorcised, a guilt-ridden Marlena helps Stefano recover. In December 1995, Tony fakes his death and frames John. Stefano is later struck by lightning and becomes so obsessed with Marlena that he bribes the judge presiding over John's murder trial to issue the death penalty. In August 1996 Stefano's plans to frame John are soon revealed and he skips town with Marlena to Paris, where he is shot by his former lover Rachel Blake. Later, his longtime confidante, Celeste Perrault (Tanya Boyd) reveals that he fathered her daughter, Dr. Lexie Carver (Renée Jones) the wife of Salem's police commissioner. Stefano brings Kristen's lookalike, Susan Banks (Davidson) to town, impregnates her and plans to pass the baby off as Kristen's baby, which she actually miscarried; Susan gives birth in February 1997 to Elvis and flees after discovering Stefano's plan. After recovering from a heart attack, Stefano marries Vivian Alamain (Louise Sorel) on December 16, 1998, and plots to kill her to get back all of his belongings left to Vivian by her late husband–who was also Stefano's employee–Steven "Jonesy" Jones (Robert Mandan). In 1999, Stefano brainwashes Hope Brady into thinking she is Princess Gina Von Amberg (Alfonso) and Gina, now in love with John, kidnaps him; feeling betrayed, Stefano exiles her to Paris.
In early 2000, the Bradys rescue Hope from Paris. Hope learns she is pregnant and Stefano believes he is the father. Stefano convinces Lexie to adopt a child, and then switches Hope's son with another, leaving the child with Lexie and husband Abe Carver (James Reynolds). In 2001, the truth about the baby switch is revealed and Stefano skips town in June 2001.
In 2006, an ill Stefano sends his son Elvis, now known as EJ (James Scott), to impregnate Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) so they can use the fetus's stem cells to improve Stefano's health. After they steal John's kidney, Stefano proposes that Sami and EJ marry and raise the child together so they can end the feud between the families. In 2008, the origins of the feud are known and it is revealed that Stefano's father Santo DiMera had an affair, and fathered a child with Colleen Brady (Shirley Jones) -- Ryan. Ryan was initially believed to be John Black, but it was later revealed that Ryan died in childhood. Stefano had once again erased John's memory in an attempt to turn him to the Pawn again. In 2009 Stefano EJ's then wife Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) hide the fact that she switched another baby with Sami's at birth. EJ is furious when he learns the truth and he kidnaps his daughter, Sydney and fakes her death, leaving everyone devastated, including Stefano. Stefano learns from Anna DiMera that EJ paid her to care for Sydney while everyone believed she was dead; he uses the information to rebuild his relationship with EJ. In September 2009, Stefano blackmails Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow) into marrying him after helping her get out from under attempted murder charges.
In 2010, Madeline Peterson Woods (Jessica Tuck) returns to Salem and after she dies, it is revealed that her son, Chad (Casey Deidrick), was fathered by Stefano, and Madeline convinced Kate to keep the secret. In 2011, Stefano helps EJ kidnap Sami's husband, Rafe Hernandez (Galen Gering) and imprison him in the DiMera basement while putting a lookalike in his place. In 2012, the DiMera empire begins to crumble when Stefano learns EJ isn't really his son and Lexie is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor caused by exposure to toxic gasses when Stefano had André kidnap her. Meanwhile, Kate has an affair with Ian McAllister (Ian Buchanan), a past lover, and Stefano files for divorce, taking everything from her. Stefano also turns John and Hope back into the Pawn and Princess Gina after revealing they are married; he forces them to retrieve a precious coin from Alamainia for him. Several other schemes continue to backfire on Stefano, including his attempt to sabotage EJ's mayoral campaign and him blackmailing Will Horton (Chandler Massey). Having angered many of his enemies, Stefano is shot and presumably killed in early June 2012. Suspicion for the murder quickly falls upon EJ, who continuously professes his innocence, but no one, save for Will or Sami, seems to believe him. After a series of explosions rock Salem in early August 2012, EJ flees with Sami in tow, and is subsequently abducted by Ian, who professes that he framed EJ for Stefano's murder. Ian then pulls back a curtain, revealing a very much alive Stefano, who is unconscious, bound in a chair and wearing a mask. Ian also confesses to falsifying Alice's letter, as well as the blood test that stated EJ wasn't Stefano's son. Stefano suddenly resurfaces in Europe where he reunites with Kristen and convinces her to come home and bring the family back together. Following the deaths of EJ and Kristen, Stefano forges a strong bond with Chad (Billy Flynn). He encourages him to pursue Abigail Deveraux (Kate Mansi) with a secret agenda to obtain Abigail's inheritance but Chad foils his plans. In 2015, Stefano suffers a stroke and is left in a wheelchair which leads to André's return and the reveal that they are father and son. Stefano advises André as he takes over running the family's daily operations. In January 2016, a grief-stricken Hope kills Stefano believing he is responsible for Bo's recent death. Rafe helps Hope cover it up by hiding Stefano's body in an abandoned building and framing André. Stefano's spirit lingers as he appears to Chad and they say their goodbyes. Stefano last appears to Chad in July 2016 when they were talking about him trusting André. In February 2017, it appears that Stefano has been captured in Prague having supposedly faked his death at the hands of Hope. However, it is later revealed that Steve Johnson and Shane Donovan (Charles Shaughnessy) have orchestrated Stefano's appearance to exonerate Hope of his murder, with Shane posing as Stefano using a bodysuit and makeup. Later as Steve and Shane reminisce about the success of their plan they review some pictures the ISA took from afar of Shane pretending to be Stefano. Yet the setting of one of the pictures is a place Shane never recalls posing at. This leads the men to wonder if the man in the photograph could actually be Stefano, leaving the two men wondering fearfully if the Phoenix has actually risen once again and is out there somewhere.
Fake death timeline
The following list is a timeline of Stefano's fake "deaths"; he either faked them himself, was presumed dead, or was reported dead by others.