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Dino Ortolani

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Dino Ortolani was the false protagonist and primary Italian inmate featured in Oz. He was a Story Arc character and Ryan O'Reily's main antagonist in the pilot episode. Portrayed by Jon Seda.


"Prisoner number 96C382, Dino Ortolani. Convicted December 12, '96 - One count murder in the first degree, assault with a deadly weapon. Sentence: Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."

Ortolani is a member of the Italians in Em City, and a made man in the Mafia. He initially appears as the sponsor of Oz's true protagonist — Tobias Beecher. Beecher's story line isn't covered as much in the pilot, so it isn't completely clear that he is the protagonist in the beginning. Ortolani receives significantly more screen time in the final segment of the episode, which leads the viewer to believe that Ortolani is the main character.

Ortolani is actually the main antagonist of Ryan O'Reily in the pilot. As seen in Ortolani's crime flashback, he is sent to murder O'Reily, who is the leader of a rival gang to the Mafia. Ortolani's trouble making downward spiral in Oz helps his nemesis O'Reily gain the upper hand on him, which results in his demise at the end of the pilot.

Season 1

Ortolani, a short tempered man, runs the kitchen for Italian mob boss, Nino Schibetta. He dislikes the black inmates unconcerned with the fact that they constitute the majority of the kitchen staff. He is disliked by most staff and inmates but is somewhat admired by Vernon Schillinger (the feeling is not mutual). When Ortolani learns that Ryan O'Reily is alive and coming to Oz, he schemes to have his old enemy killed.

Ortolani nearly kills gay inmate, Billie Keane, who makes a pass at him in the showers. This enrages Billie's brother, Jefferson, the leader of the Homeboys gang, who plots to kill Ortolani in retaliation.

Tim McManus lets Ortolani know that every prisoner and guard in Oz either hates him or is scared of him (or both), something he does not seem to mind. So, as punishment for beating up Billie he sends him to work in the AIDS ward, hoping to teach him a lesson in tolerance. While he serves time in the AIDS ward, Ortolani develops an infatuation for Dr. Gloria Nathan.

Although Ortolani is initially appalled by the AIDS patients, he begins to like one of them, Emilio Sanchez. Sanchez eventually asks Ortolani to help him die and end his suffering. Ortolani doesn't agree immediately, but returns later to do as Sanchez asked him. He disconnects Sanchez from his life support and smothers him.

McManus and Nathan throw him into Ad Seg and have him sedated. Keane then gives the order to Johnny Post and O'Reily to kill him. O'Reily uses his connections to allow Post entry to the hole, and Post then pours flammable liquid onto the sedated and restrained Ortolani and sets him on fire, burning him to death.

Ortolani is portrayed as a callous temperamental bigot seething with hatred and anger, but he occasionally revealed some positive characteristics. Throughout the episode, Ortolani is seen to feel some admiration for new inmate Kareem Said, whom he watches during his lectures to the Muslim inmates. And just before he is about to smother Sanchez, Ortolani tells Said, "It's too bad you're of the wrong color," before taking off. It is suggested by Rebadow during his interrogation with Lenny Burrano that God told him that Dino Ortolani wanted to kill himself for being in prison for the rest of his life, away from his wife and kids. By smothering Sanchez and allotting himself to be placed in the hole, he knew this would happen.

After death

In A Game of Checkers, he appears in a hallucination had by Tim McManus. In A Day in the Death..., his spirit co-narrates the episode with Augustus Hill.

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