After nine years of bringing the audience of Jimmy Kimmel Live! to tears with his humorous antics, loveable demeanor, and his kind heart, Jimmy Kimmel’s Uncle Frank Potenza sadly passed away earlier this morning at age 77.
Since the premiere of Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2003, Jimmy Kimmel’s real-life Uncle Frank had been a welcome addition to the late night format. No matter what the reason – whether rehearsed or not (typically not) – Kimmel could always look to his Uncle Frank to provide some hilarious responses to whatever was being discussed.
With the given title of “security guard,” Uncle Frank didn’t “secure” the show's hallways as much as he brought joy to everyone he encountered. Even though Jimmy Kimmel Live! doesn’t tape until 4pm PST, Uncle Frank would always arrive bright and early in the morning to spend time with the production staff - and whoever else he ran across.
Jimmy Kimmel and his Cousin Sal Iacono took to twitter today to remember their Uncle Frank:
@jimmykimmel - thank you for your kind words about a very kind man - my Uncle Frank - who passed away this morning
@TheCousinSal - I will miss my Uncle Frank dearly. A great man, friend, comedian.
Of course, Uncle Frank wasn’t always the thumbs-up giving television figure. As listed in his bio from ABC, Frank Potenza spent twenty years as a New York City police officer, ten years as a private security officer in Las Vegas (including a stint as Frank Sinatra’s personal security guard at Caesars Palace) and another seven years as an usher in Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Fans of the series will remember Kimmel stating that his Uncle Frank had to have been the worst police office ever, because in the twenty years that he spent as a NYC police officer, he only made six arrests – and one of those included someone who literally ran into him after fleeing a robbery.
R.I.P. Uncle Frank Potenza: November 11, 1933 – August 23, 2011
For the past few years, health problems caused Uncle Frank to take a hiatus from the series, and then only returning semi-regularly. Uncle Frank is survived by his ex-wife (Aunt Chippy), three daughters and a newborn granddaughter.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! is on hiatus until September 6. When the late night show returns, fans can expect a loving tribute to Uncle Frank. Until then, let’s take a look at a favorite Uncle Frank moment from the show that Cousin Sal wanted to share.
You can view the clip below:
Jimmy Kimmel Live! returns September 6 on ABC