Friday, December 13, 2019

Danny Aiello

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Very sad news today...

Danny Aiello, whose roles in Do the Right Thing, Moonstruck, The Godfather Part II and other films made him one of the most familiar and admired character actors of recent decades, died Thursday in a New Jersey medical facility following a sudden illness. He was 86. 

Aiello’s film breakthrough came in 1973 with a supporting role in baseball drama Bang the Drum Slowly, starring Robert De Niro. A signature role came the following year when he played mobster Tony Rosato in Francis Ford Coppola’s Best Picture Oscar winner The Godfather Part II. 

He’d also appear in four Woody Allen projects: 1976’s The Front, in which Allen starred as a man hopelessly caught up in the Hollywood blacklist; 1985’s The Purple Rose of Cairo; 1987’s Radio Days; and, in 1981, Allen’s Broadway play The Floating Lightbulb, in which Aiello co-starred with Bea Arthur. 

Additional notable film credits include Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Harlem Nights (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), Ruby (1992), Léon: The Professional (1994), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), TV miniseries The Last Don (1997), Dinner Rush (2000) and Lucky Number Slevin (2006). 

Aiello was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as pizzeria owner Sal Frangione in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Lee’s groundbreaking 1989 tale of race relations in Brooklyn. Aiello played against type in Norman Jewison’s 1987’s Moonstruck, playing the lovestruck — and eventually jilted — fiancé of Cher’s Loretta. In 1992, Aiello played the title character in Ruby, a chronicle of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin Jack Ruby.

A longtime resident of New Jersey, Aiello is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sandy, and three children.

He was always good in everything he did, had a long career, and was married to his wife for 64 years...that is pretty amazing just by itself.

He will be missed.

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