Actor Mark Margolis, murderous drug kingpin on ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul,’ dies at 83

Published 5:17 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

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NEW YORK — Emmy-nominated actor Mark Margolis, who played murderous former drug kingpin Hector Salamanca in “Breaking Bad” and then in the prequel “Better Call Saul,” has died at age 83.

The actor died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City following a short illness, according to a statement from his son, Morgan Margolis.

Margolis was nominated for an Emmy in 2012 for “Breaking Bad,” for outstanding guest actor, as Salamanca, the elderly don of his drug clan who was unable to speak or walk due to a stroke. Much of his character’s backstory later played out on “Better Call Saul,” the prequel in which he guest-starred from 2016 to 2022.

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Margolis also was known for many film roles, particularly in the films of Darren Aronofsky: “Noah,” “Black Swan,” “The Wrestler” and “Pi.” He also played Alberto “The Shadow” in “Scarface.” 

Other film roles included “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Gone Baby Gone,” and “Stand Up Guys.”

Margolis was born in Philadelphia in 1939 and studied acting in New York City with noted teacher Stella Adler. Focusing on the stage in his early career, he appeared in dozens of shows off-Broadway, including at the Public Theater in New York, and on Broadway in “Infidel Caesar,” based on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” He founded Blue Dome, a touring theater troupe.

Margolis is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jacqueline Margolis, and his son Morgan, who is CEO of Knitting Factory Entertainment. The family plans to have a private memorial and funeral.