Pictured: Actor and Pittsburgh native Al Checco (A'47) surrounded by some graduating seniors in 2014 at the Los Angeles Centennial Celebration for the School of Drama.

School of Drama alumnus Al Checco (A’47) died Sunday, July 19, at the age of 93.

Checco, born July 21, 1921, was an East Liberty native who attended Peabody High School. He grew up with another local film legend, Gene Kelly, who was 10 years his senior. Together, they staged neighborhood “amateur contests” and remained lifelong friends. He studied drama for two years at what was then called Carnegie Tech before being recruited to serve in World War II.

He was assigned to the Army Engineering Corps before joining the Army Detachment X, a song and comedy troupe charged with entertaining troops in the South Pacific. There, he met a man who would become another treasured friend and fellow performer: Don Knotts.

When Checco returned to the United States, he headed to New York City. He first worked as a stage manager before breaking into roles on Broadway in productions such as “Damn Yankees,” “Lend an Ear” and “Leave it to Jane.” His film credits include “Hotel,” “Bullitt” and “Pete’s Dragon.” Often, his television roles focused on his comedic talents, and he occasionally worked with Army buddy Knotts. He appeared on television shows such as “Batman,” “The Munsters” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”

A longtime supporter of the School of Drama, Checco was a member of the Carnegie Mellon Los Angeles Drama Clan and often attended the Los Angeles Showcase, the annual presentations by graduating senior students for agents and managers on the West Coast. He received Carnegie Mellon’s Distinguished Service Award (2001) and Alumni Service Award (1975). A generous donor to the School, he funded the Checco Rehearsal Studio in the Carnegie Mellon Purnell Center for the Performing Arts and endowed a scholarship fund for undergraduate drama students.

At the 2014 School of Drama Centennial Celebration in Los Angeles, he funded a School of Drama fellowship. At the time, he told the crowd that he credited his career success to Carnegie Tech’s training, and that he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend such a prestigious university without the generosity of someone who provided a scholarship. He wanted other students to benefit the way he had.

He enjoyed seeing classmates of his own era at school reunions and interacting with current students. He said he had fond memories of his time at Carnegie Mellon and called himself a Pittsburgher long after settling outside of the city, first on the East Coast and then on the West Coast.

“I visited him a year ago and he was lively, was interested in all that we do, and maintained a wonderful spirit and love of the business. He cherished CMU and his time at the Drama School,” said Peter Cooke, head of the School of Drama.