Inside Soap Star Nick Santino’s Tragic Final Days

The name Nick Santino may not be as familiar as others who’ve appeared on daytime soaps, All My Children and Guiding Light, but his story behind the camera still lingers. The actor died in 2012 after a heartbreaking ordeal that involved his beloved dog. Here’s what we know about Santino’s story.

Who is Nick Santino?

All My Children
All My Children | Ann Limongello/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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Not to be confused with singer/songwriter of the same name, soap opera actor Nick Santino appeared in seven projects, including recurring roles in both All My Children (1998-2001) and Guiding Light (2002).

According to IMDb, Santino is a Brooklyn, New York native who grew up in the foster care system as a warden of the state. Santino lived in nine different homes before going off on his own around the age of 17.

From there, the actor made a living via odd jobs such as garbage pickup and construction while putting himself through college where he earned an Engineering Degree and an MBA in Finance.

After living in NYC, Santino attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for two years, landing a role in the off-Broadway production of Frankie and Johnny, followed by Fool For Love.

Santino’s theater experience eventually transferred to his first notable role as Officer Anton in the daytime soap, All My Children. Shortly after, Santino took on producing and directing the short, Steel Crossings, which won “Best Short Drama” at various film festivals.

In 2001, when tragedy struck the World Trade Center, Santino “was part of the first team to lead search & rescue on World Trade Center 9-11-2001,” the profile continued. “He used his ConEdison Engineering ID & Asbestos Certification to gain access.”

Santino destined for something big. He was only his way up the trajectory until a series of events changed his fate.

What led up to Santino’s death

Nick Santino
Nick Santino

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In 2010 — just as the actor moved his way up the entertainment ladder — issues with residents in his building, One Lincoln Plaza, emerged leading to a ban on the ownership of pit-bulls. Santino owned a rescued a pit-bull named Rocco.

The New York Post reported that the ban stated the new regulations didn’t affect residents who already owned a pit bull, which would’ve included Santino. However, some building tenants had already complained about Rocco, putting Santino at the center of a complicated issue.

The new sanctions stated that dogs in the building “must use the service elevator” and can’t be left alone in an apartment for more than nine hours,” — both of which the soap actor allegedly didn’t comply with.

He was allegedly threatened with a $250 fine for having a barking dog, but according to neighbor Kevan Cleary, “the dog was not a barker, but somebody complained that the dog would bark.”

Santino’s former neighbor, Lia Pettigrew, told Us Weekly that Santino felt “harassed,” while another neighbor, Kevan Cleary added, “the dog was not a barker, but somebody complained that the dog would bark.” Santino was allegedly threatened with a $250 fine.

Things escalated when Santino felt increased pressure to do something about Rocco. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for either of them.

Inside the actor’s heartbreaking final days

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On Santino’s 47th birthday in January 2012, he took his own life, “after he was forced to put his beloved dog to sleep under pressure from his Upper West Side condo and became wracked by grief,” the outlet continued.

A close friend to the All My Children actor claimed Santino left behind a note.

“Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend…Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this,” he wrote hours after having 5-year-old Rocco euthanized due to pressures from building regulations. His social media profiles have since been deleted.

“[Santino] had sent me a note saying discrimination shouldn’t occur in our building,” neighbor, Cleary, added. “He wasn’t going to put up with the board saying his dog was vicious, just because of its breed.”

At the time, a condo board member asked that Santino’s death not be connected to the building’s rules.

“I’m sorry the man is dead,” said Marilyn Fireman to the Post. “But it has nothing to do with the pet policy.”

Multiple outlets reported Santino and Rocco were cremated and “laid to rest together.”

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.