Mark Margolis, 'Breaking Bad' Drug Kingpin, Dies at 83

A remarkable talent, Mark Margolis's acting transcended words and dialogue.

by Nouman Rasool
Mark Margolis, 'Breaking Bad' Drug Kingpin, Dies at 83

NEW YORK — The entertainment world mourns the loss of veteran character actor Mark Margolis, who passed away at the age of 83. Best known for his captivating performance as Hector “Tio” Salamanca, a vindictive former drug kingpin in TV's "Breaking Bad," Margolis' talents spanned both the silver screen and the stage.

Margolis died on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, succumbing to a short illness, his son Morgan Margolis confirmed in a statement. The Philadelphia-born actor began his career on the stage, studying acting with Stella Adler, a relationship he cherished.

He described Adler once in a 2022 interview, saying, “I used to say, if God is a woman, this is him”. His early career included many off-Broadway shows and a stint on Broadway.

Emmy-Nominated Breaking Bad Role

But it was his film and television roles that would make him a household name.

Margolis was notably nominated for an Emmy in 2012 for his outstanding role in "Breaking Bad." As Hector Salamanca, he didn't need dialogue; his intense facial expressions and a menacing barhop bell attached to his wheelchair became his signature.

This portrayal extended into the prequel "Better Call Saul," from 2016 to 2022. Margolis drew inspiration for the role from personal experience, basing the character's post-stroke struggles on his own family's experiences.

This authenticity resonated with fans and fellow actors alike. Bryan Cranston, his co-star, praised Margolis on Instagram, acknowledging his "fun and engaging" personality off the set and his intimidating presence on it. Beyond his standout roles in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” Margolis was a staple in Darren Aronofsky's films, including “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Fountain,” “Noah,” “Black Swan,” “The Wrestler,” and “Pi”.

His breakout film role came in Brian de Palma's 1983 “Scarface” opposite Al Pacino. His extensive filmography also included “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” and “Stand Up Guys”.

Recently, Margolis appeared in Showtime's "Your Honor" as a Mafia kingpin and in Matthew Coppola's 2022 film "Broken Soldier." In his six-decade career, Margolis also founded Blue Dome, a touring theater troupe, and contributed to shows like “The Equalizer,” “Oz,” “American Horror Story: Asylum,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Californication,” and “The Affair”.

Margolis is survived by his wife Jacqueline of 61 years and his son Morgan, CEO of Knitting Factory Entertainment. The family has expressed their intention to conduct a private memorial and funeral, reflecting on a life filled with creative endeavors, memorable performances, and a lasting impact on the world of entertainment.