‘Criminal Minds’ Special Agent David Rossi Raised His Autistic Daughter with Wife of 48 Years: ‘She’s Wonderful’

Famous actor Joe Mantegna, 75, is an incredibly successful talent who has garnered over 200 TV roles and film credits. More than an actor, he is also a producer, director, and writer who has worked with the likes of Al Pacino and Andy Garcia.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, to an insurance salesman and a shipping clerk, “The Godfather Part III” star graduated with an acting degree from the Goodman School of Drama and went on to achieve a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. His career in acting dates back to 1963 and started with a dare from a friend.

The friend dared Joe to audition for Morton East High School’s adaptation of “West Side Story.” Though he did not get the part he auditioned for, he received applause for his performance. Sometime after this, the character actor from “The Simpsons” lent his voice to a rock band called The Apocryphals.

Though Joe has starred in many other notable works and productions, perhaps his most recognized role is that of Special Agent David Rossi from the hit show “Criminal Minds.” For 15 seasons spread across 12 years, he delighted the public with his portrayal in the series until he announced his exit in 2019.

In the statement he published on his social media account, Joe reiterated his gratitude for having been a part of a cast that became like family to him. He spoke about how welcoming everyone had been when he joined the series, which had already been in production, and reflected on all the fond memories he experienced.

Another part of his announcement conveyed, “…Yes, I will miss playing David Rossi, and I’ll miss the wonderful writing that brought him to life…As I pack up my belongings from my trailer and load my car, I am satisfied with what we accomplished and proud of the work…”

He ended his assertion by giving thanks to the countless loyal fans for supporting him and the show. However, as it turned out, Joe was not the only one who missed bringing Rossi to life, as his supporters longed for his return on their screens.

A year ago, Joe sat down for an interview to discuss the return of “Criminal Minds.” He spoke about receiving a lot of fan mail from around the globe as a result of the show.

He explained that during the hiatus due to the pandemic, the series garnered a lot of attention from binge-watchers who stemmed from the youth, “I must have got about 150/200 invitations to college girls’ graduations…and they would often say, ‘Because of your show…we would binge watch it, and now I want to go into…that line of work.’ …”

Apart from his successful life as an entertainer, the beloved fan favorite is a doting dad to his daughters, Mia and Gia Mantegna, whom he shares with his wife, Arlene Vrhel. Their eldest, Mia, has autism, marked by savant and compulsive behaviors that started at a young age.

Mia’s mom, Arlene, became pregnant with her in 1986. Initially, the couple had thought the pregnancy would be trouble-free until doctors had to deliver Mia three months early due to an infection in the umbilical cord.

Life for the little girl was hard, and her parents devoted all their time to caring for her. By the time she was two and a half years old, her parents discovered she was autistic. Joe describes raising Mia, “You go through a million emotions. Your heart flies out of your chest. At first you deny it.”

In terms of her development, while other children in her age range had begun forming words, Mia was mute. She also avoided eye contact and later developed echolalia, which is a condition that makes one habitually repeat sentences and phrases.

When it comes to questions surrounding how he has been able to navigate his way around raising Mia in light of her diagnosis, Joe described not knowing what it’s like not to have a daughter with autism. There was even a time when life and art crossed over, and he played the dad of a young man with autism in “As We See It.”

Despite the adversities she’s faced in her life, Mia does not let her autism stop her from living life and pursuing her passions. Years ago, she sat down for an interview with Joey Travolta to discuss the makeup and acting work she has done for Inclusion Films.

The 36-year-old even anchored coverage on her dad’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. Following this, she conducted an interview with him, where the two spoke about her story and the important work Joe does for the cause of autism.

Regarding what she has managed to accomplish and the endurance that pushes her to go for what she wants, Joe could not be prouder of his daughter, who is both intelligent and creative.

During a previous interview, while speaking about Mia, Joe boasted, “She’s wonderful. She’s pursuing art. She almost has a savant ability reminiscent of Renoir or Gauguin in the look and colors…”

This year marks the 48th year that Mia’s doting parents have been married. Joe and Arlene met and began dating in high school in 1969.

By chance, the two had been cast in a Chicago adaption of “Hair” at the time. Arlene described them as hippies who had a lot of fun together and enjoyed each other’s company for a while before tying the knot.

In 1975, the lovebirds wed sometime following their exchange of informal and private vows while at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Regarding the secret to their nearly five-decade-long marriage, Joe explained their journey as being on a roller coaster ride that one must hang on tight to during the turns.

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