Camille Saviola dead: Star Trek’s Kai Opaka and Entourage star dies aged 71

Star Trek: Camille Saviola appears as Kai Opaka in 'Deep Space Nine'

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Camille Saviola has sadly died at the age of 71, according to a report from Deadline. No additional details were provided as some of her friends and fellow actors took to social media to pay tribute.

Actor Harvey Fierstein tweeted: “She was a friend for 40 years who could always be counted on for a laugh, a shoulder or a kick I. The a**. The Italian Godmother of Soul! Farewell.”(sic)

He then shared a snap of the pair singing together as he added: “Whenever I see a photo of Camille in my mind I hear, ‘Chamber maids. Everybody. Tutti pronti. Come on!'”

Actor Wilson Cruz, who said he performed with Saviola at multiple AIDS benefits, wrote: “What a presence this woman was!”

“My heart is heavy. My love to Camille’s family and family of friends throughout the industry. She will be missed.”

The actress, who was also recognised for her role as Turtle’s mother in Entourage, also appeared in Broadway shows such as Nine and Chicago.

A Bronx native who got her start in show business as a singer in the 1970s New York rock band the Margo Lewis Explosion, Saviola made her Broadway debut as Mama Maddelena in the 1982 production of the Tommy Tune-directed Nine musical. 

In 2003, joined the replacement cast of Chicago as Matron Mama Morton.

Her film debut came just two years after her Broadway bow when she was cast in a small part in Woody Allen’s 1984 Broadway Danny Rose. She reunited with Allen the following year for a role in The Purple Rose Of Cairo, and from then on enjoyed a prolific career in both TV and film. 

She reteamed with Allen yet again in 1991’s Shadows and Fog. Other film roles included Betsy’s Wedding and Last Exit To Brooklyn.

On television, she made appearances on Remington Steele, Baby Boom, JAG, Some of My Best Friends, Saving Grace, Without a Trace and Nip/Tuck, among many others. 

In 1992 she recurred on both The Heights and Civil Wars, and in 1993 began playing Kai Opaka in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a role that would be featured in four episodes through 1996.

In 2002, she recurred on the James Garner legal drama First Monday as Justice Esther Weisenberg. 

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From 2006 to 2009, Saviola recurred on HBO’s Entourage, portraying the mother of Jerry Ferrara’s character Turtle.

Saviola’s most recent credit is the recurring role of Filomena in the Darren Star-created series Younger.

She was the recipient of a 2007 Back Stage West Garland Award for her role in Zorba.

Fans also shared their heartbreak over the news on social media.

@LockJL5 commented: “Tremendous actress. Her role was short, but she brought so much to it. Speaks volumes about the character and the actress who brought her to life.”

@JeffAtlee said: “Thank you Camille Saviola. Kai Opaka set such a high bar for spiritual service in DS9.”

@MelindaCarvin typed: “A great loss! One of my favorite roles of hers was Justice Esther Weisenberg on First Monday. She was wonderful as Kai Opaka.”

While @PhasrOnOverload remarked: “Rest in power, Kai.”

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