On September 13, another film great passed away. Frank Vincent, best known for his roles as Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos and Billy Batts in Goodfellas, suffered a heart attack earlier in the week. The actor then underwent open heart surgery on Wednesday, September 13 in a New Jersey hospital. Unfortunately, he died from surgery complications shortly thereafter. Vincent was 80 years old and is said to have passed away surrounded by his family.
Following the devastating news, Vincent's #TheSopranos family were quick to pay their respects. Tony Sirico, a.k.a. Paulie Walnuts, released this statement through The Hollywood Reporter, fondly recalling the times they spent together while filming the legendary #HBO crime drama:
"We had a lot of fun together. Great guy. Well respected. Great actor. All I can say is we had a lot of fun. On the show, his character was working with another mob and I didn't get a piece of the action with Frank before Leotardo died. But, everybody loved Frankie."
Stevie Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante, posted this touching message for the actor on Twitter:
Maureen Van Zandt played Silvio Dante's wife, Gabriella Dante, and she too paid her respects for Vincent, calling him part of her family:
The Blast obtained an email sent by Vincent Pastore (Salvatore Bonpensiero) to their friends shortly after hearing the news. In the message, the actor stated he would keep people updated for Vincent's memorial service and also took the opportunity to honor his screen legacy:
"I just received a phone call that frank Vincent has passed away… I'll let all know about the services… we lost a great character actor and great man. May he always stay in our memory."
A Look Back At His Career
As surprising as it may sound considering his innate talent to embody different characters, Vincent didn't set out to become an actor early on in his life. He actually started out wanting to be a musician and was proficient in playing piano, the drums and the trumpet. But as luck would have it, he eventually changed his mind and co-starred with Joe Pesci in 1976's The Death Collector.
It was during production of that film when they were spotted by Robert DeNiro, who in turn recommended them to #MartinScorsese. Fortunately, Scorsese was also quite fond of Vincent, and he invited to join 1980's Raging Bull. Following that, the actor went on to further establish himself as a gangster with appearances in movies like Casino, Goodfellas, Gotti, and eventually The Sopranos, where he was a series regular from 2004 to 2007.
But his roles as a gangster didn't stop in the live-action medium. Vincent went on to voice mafia boss Salvatore Leone in 2001's Grand Theft Auto III, 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and 2005's Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Continuing his voiceover career, the actor also voiced Jon Gabagooli in Adult Swim's Mr. Pickle from 2014 to 2016. Vincent's last screen credit is a guest appearance in Season 18 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Fans Made Sure To Pay Their Respects
The tributes didn't stop with his Sopranos co-stars. Fans and other celebrities also took to social media to honor Vincent with a variety of heartwarming messages:
It's incredibly sad to know that such an icone actor has passed away, but he will continue to live on through his numerous scene-stealing appearances in films and television series.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Vincent's friends and family.