Criminal Minds Star Joe Mantegna Calls His Wife Arlene A “Gift”


Over the last two decades, fans of Criminal Minds have known Joe Mantegna for portraying SSA David Rossi. As the character has gone through his share of love and heartbreak, the actor playing him has been very lucky in the romance department. Throughout his entire career, he’s had his wife, Arlene Vrhel, by his side.

According to a 1997 article in People, Joe and Arlene first met in 1969 in his hometown of Chicago. The two were high school students at the time, and they got acquainted when they were both cast in a local production of the musical Hair. Joe and Arlene eventually began dating, but the couple wasn’t too keen on tying the knot.

“We just had a lot of fun, but we didn’t get married for the longest time because we were hippies,” Arlene affectionately told the outlet at the time.


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Joe and Arlene did eventually get married in 1975 at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was shortly after that time that the duo left their hometown and headed to California to help Joe grow his career. “I knew that if we didn’t go then, we never would,” Joe said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Joe and Arlene briefly moved back to Chicago, where Joe earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Glengarry Glen Ross in 1984.

In 1987, Joe and Arlene began the journey of parenthood, with the birth of their first daughter, Mia. Mia was born at just 1 pound and 13 ounces. Joe and Arlene encountered numerous health issues with their firstborn. What’s more, at the age of two, Mia was diagnosed with autism, motivating Joe to become an advocate and activist. The couple welcome their second daughter, Gina, in 1990. She later changed her named to Gia, and followed her dad’s footsteps to become an actor.

“I’ve been asked in the past, ‘What’s it like to have a daughter with autism?’ And my answer always is, ‘I don’t know what it’s like not to have a daughter with autism,'” Joe told Page Six in 2022. “Of course, I have my wife and I have my other daughter. So the four of us make this family, and that’s our dynamic.”


As Joe’s career took off, he decided to pay back the support Arlene gave to him by being at her side as she opened her own restaurant called Taste Chicago in Burbank, California in 2004. Though the couple closed the eatery in 2019, they worked side-by-side the entire time.

Throughout the ups and downs of their relationship, Joe never stops being aware of how lucky he is to have Arlene. When his 43rd wedding anniversary coincided with an appearance on The Talk, he publicly apologized for working on their special day. What’s more, when Joe acknowledged his late mother-in-law’s birthday in August 2023, he made fans weep with the public declaration he made for Arlene.

“As today is my late mother-in-law’s birthday there is no gift I can send her,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter) at the time. “However, I can thank her for the gift of her daughter, for the wife and mother she is and continues to be over the 50 years we’ve been together. Happy Birthday Marie. Love, Joey.”

If anyone has laid out the road map for a long-lasting marriage, looks like we can turn to Joe and Arlene for an example…