Don Novello (born January 1, 1943) is an American writer, film director, producer, actor, singer, and comedian. Novello is best known for his work on NBC's Saturday Night Live, from 1977 until 1980, and then 1985 until 1986, often as the character "Father Guido Sarducci". Novello has appeared as "Sarducci" on many television shows since then, including Married... with Children, Blossom, It's Garry Shandling's Show, Unhappily Ever After, Square Pegs and The Colbert Report.
Novello was born in Lorain, Ohio, the son of Eleanor (née Finnerty) and Augustine J. Novello, who was a physician. He is of Italian and Irish descent. He graduated from the University of Dayton. In 1965, he graduated from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ.
In the late 1960s, Novello worked as an advertising copywriter for Leo Burnett in Chicago.
Don Novello created the Father Guido Sarducci character in 1973 after finding a monsignor's outfit for $7.50 at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop. Adding sunglasses, a broom mustache, cigarette and a thick Italian accent, Sarducci became popular in a San Francisco nightclub. Sarducci appeared on San Francisco Channel 20's Chicken Little Comedy Show, and comic David Steinberg was watching. Steinberg hired Novello as a writer for a TV show that never aired, but he also introduced Novello to Tommy and Dick Smothers, and they hired Novello, too. Novello performed on The Smothers Brothers Show in 1975, appearing as Sarducci.
In the 1970s, Novello started to write letters to famous people under the pen name of Lazlo Toth (name taken from that of Laszlo Toth, a deranged man who vandalized Michelangelo's Pietà in Rome). The letters, designed to tweak the noses of politicians and corporations, were full of deliberate misstatements of fact and inside jokes. Many of these letters received serious responses; Novello sometimes continued the charade correspondence at length, with humorous results. The letters and responses were published in the books The Lazlo Letters, Citizen Lazlo!, and From Bush to Bush: The Lazlo Toth Letters.
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