‘Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Tony Sirico Dies At Age 79

TODAY

Gennaro Anthony Sirico, better known as Tony Sirico, was born in New York City in 1942. His family was Italian, and he grew up in Brooklynn. 

Sirico was arrested 28 times for reasons including assault, disorderly conduct, and robbery. He was convicted of multiple crimes and went to jail multiple times including one time in 1971 when he had a sentence of 4 years due to felony weapons possession. He spent 20 months of that sentence at Sing Sing.

It was when he was in prison that Sirico decided to become an actor. While he was in jail in the early 1970s, he saw a group of ex-convicts perform. He told the New York Times, “I watched ’em and I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I knew I wasn’t bad looking. And I knew I had the (guts) to stand up and (bull) people. You get a lot of practice in prison. I used to stand up in front of these cold-blooded murderers and kidnapers — and make ’em laugh.”

Sirico was never arrested again. He went on to become an actor best known for his roles on “The Sopranos” and “Goodfellas.” In both roles, he played a mobster, but his career was more diverse than just playing one type of character. He played a police officer in the films “Deconstructing Harry” and “Dead Presidents.” He also acted in a total of eight Woody Allen films including “Bullets over Broadway” and “Mighty Aphrodite.” He was also a voice over actor in “American Dad” and Family Guy” in addition to acting in “Miami Vice.”

Sirico was diagnosed with dementia several years ago. He passed away at an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 8, 2022. He was 79 years old. He is survived by his brother, Robert Sirico, who is a priest, and his two children, his daughter Joanne Sirico Bello, and his son Richard Sirico.

His family did not release a cause of death, but in a statement, they confirmed his death “with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories.”

According to Sirico’s manager, Bob McGowen, the actor was “loving and giving.” He was a member of the USO. In 2004, he visited the Persian Golf where he signed autographs and posed for photos with servicemen and women.

Although his role as Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos” was one of his most well known roles, it almost didn’t happen. Watch the video below to hear Sirico describe the audition process for the show.