A second shock to many was the realisation that Covid-19 regulations meant they could not attend his funeral.
Tom had arrived in the Scottish capital from his native New York in 1964, after he and his wife, the actress Eileen McCallum, had been invited by Tom Fleming, the director of the city’s Lyceum theatre company, to join his repertory company.
Fleming had seen the couple performing in an off-Broadway production and recognised the talent in both. From the moment he set foot in Edinburgh, a place which he came to adore, Tom began establishing himself as an integral part of its artistic infrastructure – also later involving the art and antiques world.
Tom brought with him an exotic past illuminated by an inexhaustible fund of amusing stories.
Before being drafted into the military during the Korean War, he was well on his way to becoming a successful professional jazz player, the tenor saxophone being his weapon of choice.
Playing in gigs in New York, he had met most of the greats of the genre, including Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday and Charlie Parker. Although the military wrecked his jazz career, his experiences in the ranks only added to his cache of stories – such as being sent to a boot camp in North Carolina because of perceived insolence.
By the late 1960s Tom’s life seemed settled. Starting his professional acting career in the Lyceum, he enjoyed a good few years as a successful theatre and film actor, graduating eventually into directing for television and theatre.
With three children, and a fourth just around the corner, Tom and Eileen were settled in a basement flat in his beloved Drummond Place and had a network of friends including Brian Cox, Tom Conti, William MacTaggart, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Sidney Goodsir Smith and a host of others.
Tom decided to re-invent himself one more time in his late thirties. The enchantment he found in Edinburgh and a keen eye had made him increasingly aware of the beauty of the visual arts, leading him to immerse himself in the history and all the various philosophies of painting.
Armed with this self-taught knowledge, Tom opened a gallery at 49 Cumberland Street, which he had converted out of an old greengrocer’s shop. There, for several decades, he dealt in art and antiques and put on exhibitions, making it a go-to place for collectors as well as the plain curious.
Tom’s Gallery became a cornerstone of the art ‘quarter’ in Edinburgh and Tom himself a pillar of that community. But more than that, anyone who paid a visit was met not only with a warm welcome but by a plaintalking, down-to-earth yet educated New Yorker with not a single deferential bone in his body.
Thomas Anthony Fidelo leaves behind his wife Eileen and their four children, Mark, Neal, Sarah and Tim and several grandchildren, as well as his partner for the last 10 years Margo Cumming and her family.
Dr John St Clair