Paul Sorvino, an actor whose bread and butter was playing gangsters and tough-guy cops, has died. He was 83.
“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 stage,” his wife, Dee Dee Sorvino, said in a statement.
Sorvino’s publicist Roger Neal confirmed that he died Monday morning of natural causes.
Some of Sorvino’s most notable roles included Paulie Cicero in Goodfellas and a New York police sergeant on Law & Order.
He also made a name for himself playing an Italian-American communist in Warren Beatty’s Reds, Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s Nixon and mob boss Eddie Valentine in The Rocketeer.
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Despite his tough exterior and penchant for forceful roles, Sorvino was passionate about poetry, painting and the opera.
Born in Brooklyn in 1939 to a mother who taught piano and father who was a foreman in a robe factory, Sorvino was musically inclined from a young age and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York where he fell for the theater. He made his Broadway debut in 1964 in Bajour and his film debut in Carl Reiner’s Where’s Poppa? in 1970.
Sorvino had three children from his first marriage, including Academy Award-winning actor Mira Sorvino.
When he learned that his daughter had been among the women allegedly sexually harassed and blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein in the midst of the #MeToo reckoning, he told TMZ that if he had known, Weinstein “would not be walking. He’d be in a wheelchair.”
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sorvino was a respected tenor singer and was invited to perform for the New York Opera at Lincoln Center in 2006. The outlet reports that while he was a performing mainstay at hotels in the Catskills as a teen, his struggles with asthma made him focus on acting.
His frequent roles as a man on the wrong side of the law resulted in many conflating his onscreen appearance with who he really was.
“There are many people who think I’m actually a gangster or a mafioso, largely because of Goodfellas,” he once said. “I suppose that’s the price you pay for being effective in a role.”
Despite frequently playing the bad guy, people took to social media Monday to honour the actor and his softer side.
Sorvino’s wife confirmed to THR that her husband will be interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
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— With files from The Associated Press
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