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Paul Sorvino: Goodfellas and Law & Order actor dies aged 83

Written by on 26 July 2022

US actor Paul Sorvino, most famous for his role as gangster Paulie Cicero in the classic mob movie Goodfellas, has died aged 83.

Sorvino, also known for portraying police sergeant Phil Cerreta on TV series Law & Order, had worked in film and television for more than 50 years.

The actor’s daughter Mira Sorvino, a Hollywood star in her own right, wrote on Twitter: “My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed.

“My heart is rent asunder – a life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over.

“He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I’m sending you love in the stars Dad as you ascend.”

Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock    Goodfellas, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Joe Pesci    1990 Image: Sorvino with his Goodfellas co-stars Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

When she won a best-supporting actress Oscar for her role in 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite, she thanked her father in her acceptance speech. “He has taught me everything I know about acting,” she said at the time, which brought him to tears.

He died of natural causes at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, a spokesperson said.

“I am completely devastated. The love of my life & the most wonderful man who has ever lived is gone. I am heartbroken,” his wife Dee Dee Sorvino wrote on social media.

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Paul Sorvino's famous razor garlic slice. GoodFellas. 2:29 Paul Sorvino’s iconic garlic slicing scene

In May this year, his co-star in the 1990 film Goodfellas, Ray Liotta, died at 67 in his sleep while he was filming a movie in the Dominican Republic.

With his 6ft 2in stature, Sorvino had an impactful presence in his work.

Among his other high-profile roles, he was mob boss Eddie Valentine in The Rocketeer in 1991, and played former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s 1995 movie, Nixon, about the disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins.

A year later in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, he was Fulgencio Capulet, patriarch of the Capulets. He also played an Italian American communist in Warren Beatty’s Reds.

Paul Sorvino and his daughter Mira in 2007. Pic: AP Image: Paul Sorvino and his daughter Mira in 2007. Pic: AP

Sorvino worked continually, with more than 170 credits and dozens of roles in recent years, including guest appearances in Godfather of Harlem, Bad Blood, Undercover Grandpa, The Goldbergs, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

He would often say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters, his real passions were poetry, painting and opera.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1939, and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.

FILE - Paul Sorvino, right, and his wife Dee Dee Sorvino attend the AMBI Gala benefiting The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation on Sept. 9, 2015, in Toronto. Sorvino, an imposing actor who specialized in playing crooks and cops like Paulie Cicero in Image: Paul Sorvino and his wife Dee Dee in 2015

He originally wanted to be an opera singer before he turned to acting.

In the 1970s, he acted alongside Al Pacino in The Panic in Needle Park, and with James Caan in The Gambler.

His long career also included roles in Broadway play That Championship Season and a 1982 film adaptation of it.

Other movie credits included Dick Tracy and Money Talks.

Along with his wife Dee Dee and Oscar-winner Mira, Sorvino is survived by his son Michael, daughter Amanda and five grandchildren.

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