Jimmy Caputo: a good man goes down

By Bob Hicks

We return to town to some terrible news that many of you no doubt have heard already: Jimmy Caputo, one of Portland’s best-known and most beloved actors, died Thursday morning from a heart attack. The Oregonian’s Marty Hughley has the story on Oregon Live.

Jim Caputo in "The Ghosts of Treasure Island" at Oregon Children's Theatre. Leah Nash/Special to The Oregonian/2008Jim was a terrific character actor, a good musician, an assured comedian with dramatic chops who could move with ease from the likes of David Mamet’s American Buffalo (which he performed years ago with the late, great Peter Fornara) to small-scale musicals like Pump Boys and Dinettes to a lot of kids’ shows, including his memorable turn as Smee in Peter Pan.

More than that, he pumped a prodigious amount of life into Portland’s theater scene. He loved being part of the theater, and he loved to entertain. Everybody knew Jimmy, everybody liked him, most everybody had a story about him — often about some little act of generosity on his part. He was always smiling, often laughing, filled with the exuberance of life in general and life on and behind the stage in particular. The last time I saw him was when I hit a rehearsal for Marv Ross’s musical The Ghosts of Celilo. Jimmy was playing guitar in the band. He greeted me, as he often had before, with a bear hug: glad to see a friend, glad to be alive.

Jim was 50 when he died. He’s survived by his wife, Karen Voss, their sons, Ian and Lorenzo, and six brothers. Our condolences to all of them, and may they remember the many, many good times.


Photo: Jim Caputo in “The Ghosts of Treasure Island” at Oregon Children’s Theatre. Leah Nash/Special to The Oregonian/2008