Tony Sirico, ‘Sopranos’ Actor Passes Away At 79

Tony Sirico, who was 79 years old when he passed away, was best known for his role as the gangster Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in the American crime-drama series “The Sopranos.”

Tony’s manager spoke to ‘Variety’ and verified that Tony had passed away. Paulie Walnuts, played by Sirico and regarded as a flamboyant and fiercely humorous foot soldier of Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, is said to have one-liners that are unmatched by anybody else. From the very beginning of ‘The Sopranos,’ Sirico was a scene-stealer.

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According to some sources Sirico counterbalanced Paulie’s menacing nature with his deadpan humor and his predilection for malapropisms. For example, Sirico first referred to Sun Tzu as “Sun Tuh-Zoo,” and he subsequently referred to the philosopher as the “Chinese Prince Matchabelli.”

After his original tryout for the part of Uncle Junior, Sirico was cast in many episodes over all six seasons of ‘The Sopranos.’ This was reported in Variety. Dominic Chianese was finally successful in securing the role.

Tony Sirico, 'Sopranos' Actor Passes Away At 79
Tony Sirico, ‘Sopranos’ Actor Passes Away At 79

Sirico, who was born Gennaro Anthony Sirico Jr. on July 24, 1942, in New York City to an Italian family, spent a significant portion of his early life getting into legal problems and has been affiliated with the actual Colombo crime family. Sirico’s parents were immigrants from Italy.

Before beginning a career in acting, he was taken into custody a total of 28 times, the first of which occurred when he was only seven years old and had stolen nickels from a newsstand. He served time in jail on two separate occasions: the first time, for having a weapon that was prohibited to possess, and the second time, for committing armed robbery.

In the 1974 crime thriller “Crazy Joe,” which also starred Henry Winkler, Sirico made his debut in the film industry as a background actor. This movie set the stage for several more parts that Sirico would play in the future as gangsters and criminals, including Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990 and Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” in 1994.

Sirico has made appearances in a number of Woody Allen’s movies, including “Cafe Society” (2016) and “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995), to name just two of them. Michael Imperioli, who starred alongside Sirico in ‘The Sopranos,’ paid tribute to the late actor in an Instagram post by writing, “It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague, and partner in crime, the great TONY SIRICO has passed away today.” Imperioli paid tribute to Sirico as “the great TONY SIRICO.”

 

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Tony was one of a kind; I’ve never met anybody else who was so courageous, so devoted, and so generous with their heart as he was. I stood at his side through everything, both the good times and the difficult ones. But things are looking up. And many belly laughs were shared by everybody!

“As Christopher and Paulie, we got into a rhythm, and I’m glad to report that some of my greatest and most enjoyable work has been done in collaboration with my good friend Tony. I will never get over the loss of him. He is genuinely incomparable to anybody else. I express my best wishes and love to his family, friends, and all of his devoted followers. He was cherished by many, and his memory will live on forever. This day has destroyed my heart.”

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In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Sirico’s longtime manager Bob McGowan confirmed that the actor died on Friday at an assisted-living facility in Fort Lauderdale. Dementia-suffering Sirico has been dead for a few years, but the cause of death has not been determined. Actor and friend McGowan tell THR that not only were they devoted clients, but they were excellent friends as well.

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