Paul Sorvino, the burly character actor who made a career out of playing powerful guys, including cold-hearted mobster Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese GoodFellas, is dead. He was 83 years old.
Sorvino, the father of Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), died Monday of natural causes, his wife, Dee Dee, announced.
“Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and the stage,” she said. declared.
Publicist Roger Neal said he died at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
In a solid career that spanned half a century, Sorvino portrayed bookmaker James Caan inThe player (1974), Claire Danes’ insistent father in Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet (1996), Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995) and a distressed heroin addict in The cooler (2003).
He played a founder of the American Communist Party in Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and worked again alongside the actor-director in Dick Tracy (1990), Bulworth (1998) and The rules don’t apply (2016).
A respected tenor who fulfilled a dream when he performed for the New York Opera at Lincoln Center in 2006, the Brooklyn native also performed for a season as Det. Phil Cerretta, Chris Noth’s detective partner. Mike Logan on NBC Law and order.
In 1973, Sorvino received a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk Award for his performance as the unscrupulous Phil Romano – one of four former high school basketball players who reunite to visit their former coach – in the original production Broadway by Jason Miller. This league seasonwinner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
He reprized the role for a 1982 film, then played the coach in a 1999 Showtime TV movie for which he also made his directorial debut. He returned to Scranton, Pennsylvania, part of This league seasonto star in and direct his only feature film, The problem with Cali (2012).
Yet Sorvino is probably best known for his role as Cicero, who enjoyed a good meal and cut his garlic with a razor blade, in the ultra-violent GoodFellas (1990), which Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese adapted from Pileggi’s 1986 non-fiction book.
In a 2015 New York Times piece on the film’s 25th anniversary, Sorvino said he was thrilled to get the role — and scared to death.
“I had done a lot of comedies as well as dramas, but I had never done a really tough guy. I never had it in me,” he said. “And that [part] called for lethality, which I felt was beyond me. I called my manager three days before shooting started and said, “Get me out.” I’m going to ruin this great man’s picture, and I’m going to ruin myself. He, wise, said: “Call me tomorrow, and if necessary I’ll get you out.”
“Then I walked past the mirror in the hallway to adjust my tie. I was just inconsolable. And I looked in the mirror and literally took a foot back. I saw a look that I didn’t I had never seen, something in my eyes that alarmed me. A deadly, soulless look in my eyes that frightened me and was extremely threatening. And I looked up to the heavens and said, ‘You found it.’ “
A 6-foot-3, 240-pound commander in his prime, Sorvino also played men on the wrong side of the law in Panic in Needle Park (1971), William Friedkin Brink’s work (1978), The Rocket (1991) and The company (1993).
“There are a lot of people who think I’m actually a gangster or mafioso, largely because of Freedmen“, he once said. “I guess it’s the price to pay to be effective in a role.
He could be a great softie, though. When her daughter took the stage to accept her Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1996, Sorvino was seen in the audience, crying with joy.
Sorvino was born on April 13, 1939 in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her father was an Italian immigrant who worked in a dress factory and her mother was a homemaker and piano teacher. His parents argued frequently, and he spent time living in California with his mother before graduating from Lafayette High School in 1956.
Sorvino said he had always been fascinated by the human voice and sang in Catskills hotels as a teenager. He took class after class and dreamed of becoming an opera singer, but an asthma problem forced him to focus on acting.
He attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, studied with Sanford Meisner and William Esper, and rose to prominence on stage.
Learning to control his asthma with breathing exercises – he would later found the Sorvino Children’s Asthma Foundation and write a book in 1985, How to Become a Former Asthmatic – Sorvino made his Broadway debut as a singing patrolman in the musical Bajour in 1964.
Sorvino first appeared on screen in Carl Reiner Where is dad ? (1970), then played the father of Joseph Bologna in made for each other (1971), the producer friend of George Segal in A touch of class (1973) and a government agent in Mike Nichols dolphin day (1973).
In 1975, Sorvino embarked on a television series playing a middle-class New Jersey lawyer in We’ll get through this, a CBS show created by Alan Alda. The comedy, however, only lasted 12 episodes. The following year he starred as a maverick cop in the The streets of San Francisco spin off Bert D’Angelo, Superstar. This was canceled after 11 episodes.
Talking about his only season (1991-92) on Law and order, Sorvino was not nostalgic. “I felt like I was in the Russian gulag,” he said. “There was absolutely no communication with the writers and producers, and we had to work under the worst conditions.”
He left the show and Logan found a new partner, Det. Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach).
Sorvino also played the cop who sends Al Pacino undercover in Friedkin’s Cruise (1980) and portrayed detectives in Me, the Jury (1982) and as a main character in another short-lived CBS show, 1987-88 The oldest recruit.
He portrayed Bruce Willis’ father on ABC Illegal workand with Raymond Burr ailing, stepped in to play a guest lawyer in a Perry Mason TV movie, 1993 The case of wicked women.
He also starred with Ellen Burstyn and Kevin Dillon in the 2000-02 CBS comedy-drama That’s life.
Sorvino’s CV also included Reiner’s Oh my God! (1977), Slow dance in the big city (1978), Blood brothers (1978), FOUND OBJECT (1979), the 1979 TV movie Dummy, Turkish 182! (1985), The thing (1985), A beautiful mess (1986), money talks (1997), Plan B (2001), Scent (2001), Mr. 3000 (2004) and The Bronx Bull (2016).
More recently, he played Frank Costello in the Epix series Godfather of Harlem.
In a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose, Sorvino lamented that he never had the chance to do a studio shot. “I went to the top of the mountain, but I wasn’t the guy,” he said. “I was a passenger on the bus, but I was not the driver.”
Sorvino sang the role of Alfred in The bat with the Seattle Opera Company in 1981 and years later performed in a revival of The happiest guy at Lincoln Center. He has also recorded three CDs.
Sorvino married his third wife, Dee Dee Benkie, a GOP strategist and former aide to President George W. Bush, in 2014. They had met on Fox News Channel. Your world with Neil Cavuto.
He had dealt with health issues in recent years, she said, and will be buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Survivors include his other children, Amanda and Michael, and five grandchildren.