Highlander Wiki
Charlie DeSalvo
First appearance Turnabout
Last appearance Brothers in Arms
Appeared in Highlander: The Series
Born 1956
Died 1995
Nationality American
Status Deceased, killed by Andrew Cord
Occupation Owner/Operator (later manager) "DeSalvo's Martial Arts"
Portrayed by  Philip Akin

Charlie DeSalvo was born in Seacouver, Washington in 1956 to a black mother and an Italian father, Charlie faced life as both as a bi-racial and under-privileged person. He grew up in an area of the city known as "The Zone,"  a bad neighborhood that only got worse with passing years. He remained friends with Asia, who still lived in the Zone where she ran a clinic.

In 1977, Charlie joined the U.S. Navy and trained as a Navy SEAL. His military career lasted 12 years. After leaving the Navy, he took his savings and opened DeSalvo Martial Arts, a neighborhood dojo. One of his earliest students was a teenage Vietnamese refugee, Jimmy Sang, who went on to become a B movie action star.

Charlie met Duncan MacLeod in late 1993. In October of that year, due to prolonged financial difficulties, he sold his beloved dojo to MacLeod, though he stayed on as manager at MacLeod's request, for another year. His friendship with Duncan grew from a prickly start, and though Duncan did not tell him he was an Immortal, Charlie knew he had a secret.

Charlie also befriended MacLeod's young Immortal protege, Richie Ryan, as well as MacLeod's Watcher, Joe Dawson. With MacLeod around, he always seemed to get in trouble with other Immortals, although Duncan tried to keep him safe as much as possible. In February 1994, Charlie, refusing to follow MacLeod's advice when his friend went to face Immortal, Xavier St. Cloud. He followed MacLeod, and saw him mortally shot by Hunter, James Horton. Charlie was also shot by Horton and nearly died, but he was taken to the hospital where he was successfully treated. When he woke up, MacLeod was very much alive at his side. Charlie asked him how was it that Duncan had survived when he had seen MacLeod shot in the heart. MacLeod told that one day he would reveal the truth about himself, but not just then.

Charlie and Mara in the Balkans

In late 1994, Charlie fell in love with Balkan revolutionary, Mara Leonin, and he decided to travel with her to her homeland to help her in her fight to free her people. Upon Charlie's departure, management of DeSalvo's Martial Arts passed to Richie Ryan. The following year, Mara and Charlie were set up by Immortal arms dealer, Andrew Cord, who deliberately sold them defective weapons. When confronted by Mara, Cord shot and killed her. Charlie arrived on the scene moments later, and Cord nearly succeeded in killing Charlie. Charlie followed Cord to Seacouver to avenge Mara's death, and shot Cord dead at the airport, only to have the incident witnessed by Dawson and MacLeod. When MacLeod discovered the shooter's identity, he warned Charlie off Cord, telling him he could not win that particular battle. Ignoring both MacLeod's and Dawson's warnings, Charlie confronted Cord again, and was mortally stabbed by the Immortal.


MacLeod found Charlie lying in an alley just outside Joe's bar but realized nothing could be done to save his friend. Before Charlie died in his arms, MacLeod kept his promise and revealed his true nature. MacLeod then avenged Charlie's death by defeating and beheading Cord.

Character Development[]

  • Charlie is described in the script of "Turnabout" as a black man in his late twenties and moving "like a street-tiger." His heritage is African and Italian: when black guys weren't beating on him for being Italian, the Italians stomped him for being in the wrong neighborhood. Fed up, Charlie enlisted in the Navy where he trained as a SEAL, and forged his street-moves into martial arts mastery. He realized his dream of owning his dojo by hard work and sweat. He's friendly but tough as hell.
  • Executive Producer Bill Panzer explains, "We realized that Alexandra Vandernoot (Tessa) wanted to return to Europe for personal reasons, and we thought MacLeod needed another mortal to talk to and to interact with. And... Charlie DeSalvo's character was a very good foil for Mac."

List of Appearances[]

The TV Series