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Paul Sorvino, Tony-Nominated Star and ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘The Rocketeer’ Actor, Dead at Age 83

Sorvino famously portrayed mob head Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas."

Paul Sorvino, Goodfellas

Paul Sorvino in “Goodfellas”


Updated, July 25 at 3:14 p.m. ET: Oscar winner Mira Sorvino penned a tribute to her late father, “Goodfellas” star and Tony nominee Paul Sorvino.

Mira wrote, “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.”

Mira previously credited her father in her Academy Awards acceptance speech for “Mighty Aphrodite,” saying in 1996 that her Oscar is equally an honor to Paul Sorvino, “who has taught me everything I know about acting.”

Mira continued, “I love you very much, Dad. I always looked at great performances and was so moved by how much other people’s hearts made me feel as a child. And I wanted to be an actor who could move other people and make other people see something about the human spirit, and you’ve made me feel that I’ve made a small step towards that. So thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.”

Published, July 25 at 2:43 p.m. ET: Paul Sorvino, best known for playing Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic “Goodfellas,” died at age 83.

Sorvino’s family, including daughter Mira Sorvino and wife Dee Dee Sorvino, confirmed the actor’s passing on Monday, July 25, citing natural causes.

“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,” Dee Dee stated.

The Tony-nominated Sorvino starred in film, TV, and stage for over 50 years, with roles including opposite the late James Caan in 1974’s “The Gambler” and Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Sorvino portrayed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon,” plus appeared in “Cruising,” “The Cooler,” “The Firm,” “The Rocketeer,” “Reds,” “Dick Tracy,” and “Rules Don’t Apply.”

For television, Sorvino portrayed Bruce Willis’ father on “Moonlighting,” and later starred opposite Chris Noth in NBC’s “Law and Order.”

A Brooklyn native, Sorvino struggled with asthma as a child and later founded the Sorvino Children’s Asthma Foundation and wrote a 1985 book, “How to Become a Former Asthmatic.” He made his Broadway debut in 1964. Sorvino additionally performed at the New York Opera at Lincoln Center in 2006 after receiving a Tony nomination for the original Broadway production of Jason Miller’s “That Championship Season,” winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Yet Sorvino’s most beloved role proves to be teaching viewers how to slice garlic with a razor blade in “Goodfellas.”

During a 2015 New York Times oral history tied to the 25th anniversary of the film, Sorvino admitted he had “never done a really tough guy” role onscreen before.

“This [part] called for a lethality, which I felt was way beyond me,” he shared. “I called my manager three days before we started shooting and said, ‘Get me out. I’m going to ruin this great man’s picture, and I’m going to ruin myself.’ He, being wise, said, ‘Call me tomorrow, and if necessary I will get you out.'”

Sorvino later reflected, “There are many people who think I’m actually a gangster or a mafioso, largely because of ‘Goodfellas.’ I suppose that’s the price you pay for being effective in a role.”

Sorvino is survived by his children Mira, Amanda, and Michael, his five grandchildren, and third wife Dee Dee Benkie.

Sorvino’s fellow “Goodfellas” alum Ray Liotta died earlier this year as well as Scorsese collaborator Tony Sirico of “The Sopranos” fame.

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