Set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a period comedy-drama series that tells the story of Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a homemaker who discovers that she has a future in stand-up comedy scene after her husband leaves her for his secretary. One of the recurring characters of the show is Jackie, the emcee at the Gaslight Club, where Midge regularly performs. His back-and-forth exchanges with Susie (Alex Borstein) epitomize the fast-paced writing that series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is known for.
In episode 3 of season 4, titled ‘Everything Is Bellmore,’ Susie learns that Jackie has died and spends the rest of the episode attempting to deal with the subsequent grief. The episode is dedicated to the actor who portrayed Jackie in the show, Brian Tarantina. He passed away on November 2, 2019, at age 60. Here is everything you need to know about the character and the man behind him.
Who Was Jackie?
Jackie was one of the most prominent recurring characters in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’ He had been part of the cast since the pilot episode. His relationship with Susie was arguably even more engaging than the one latter shares with Midge, the show’s protagonist. Their rapid-fire interactions were dry humor at its finest. At one point, he comes to live at Susie’s apartment and just doesn’t leave. This proves to be a good thing for both Susie and her tiny apartment. He decorates it and makes it liveable.
Despite working alongside him for a long time and then living with him, Susie realizes that she doesn’t know much about the man when his sister, Nancy, shows up and tells her about his death. He apparently had a stroke earlier that day and was taken to hospital, where he passed away. Later, Susie picks up Jackie’s things from the Gaslight and learns he was in the military and even received a Bronze Star. She spends the rest of the episode holding in the torrential grief threatening to overwhelm her.
However, when Susie sees that no one has shown up at Jackie’s wake except her, Midge, Nancy, Chester, and the priest, it finally spills out. Susie walks to the wake next room with Jackie’s picture in her hand and delivers one of the most poignant and emotional monologues in the history of this wonderful show, giving a perfect farewell to both the character and the actor.
How Did Brian Tarantina Die?
Brian Tarantina passed away in his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Laurie Smith, his publicist, told the media that he died due to health complications “he experienced a few months ago.” Condolences subsequently began to pour in. Both Brosnahan and Borstein put out messages on social media expressing their grief, as did the official social media channels of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’
Tarantina had been a long-term collaborator of Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino. He is also known for essaying the recurring character Bootsy in ‘Gilmore Girls’ and its miniseries sequel ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.’ “For over twenty-five years, Brian Tarantina has been in our lives,” they recalled in a statement. “He was in Amy’s first pilot. And he’s been in every significant thing we’ve done since. He came in with that voice and that timing and he made every scene better. And weirder.”
The Gaslight won’t be the same without you. Thank you Brian Tarantina for sharing in all of the laughs. Sending love to his family and friends in this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/J1R1ijF3tE
— The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (@MaiselTV) November 2, 2019
In December 2019, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office stated that the ‘The Black Donnellys’ actor passed away due to “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, heroin, diazepam and cocaine.” Brian Tarantina’s death was ruled an accident.