Frank Vincent, a character actor best known for roles as Italian mafia members, has died at the age of 78. Friends and colleagues confirmed the news on social media Wednesday.
“Legendary Actor and accomplished Musician Frank Vincent has passed away peacefully at the age of 80 surrounded by his family on September 13, 2017. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time,” said a statement on behalf of his family.
Fellow actor Vincent Pastore, who co-starred with Vincent on “The Sopranos” as Salvatore ‘Big Pussy’ Bonpensiero, confirmed his passing on Facebook.
John Gallagher, who directed him in a number of movies such as “Men Lie” and “The Deli,” along with a few stage plays and short films, posted about the loss on Facebook.
“I could write a book about my times with Frank, all beautiful joyous memories, but today in our grief thoughts race to his beloved wife Kathy and his grown children. Requiescat in pace FV, see ya on the other side,” he wrote.
Gallagher added that Vincent had been plagued with health issues in the final years of his life.
Over his four decades in the industry, he played memorable characters like Billy Batts in “Goodfellas” and Phil Leotardo — Tony Soprano’s nemesis — in “The Sopranos.”
On the HBO drama, he played vicious mob boss Phil Leotardo, who eventually rose through the ranks to become the boss of the Lupertazzi crime family. He won a Screen Actors Guild award in 2008 as a part of that ensemble.
Vincent appeared in two other Martin Scorsese works: “Raging Bull” and “Casino.” Coincidentally, in both “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull” he shares scenes with Joe Pesci. He also gets beaten by Pesci in both of those films.
“Frank Vincent was someone I could count on,” Scorcese said in a statement. “He was a natural who was at ease in front of the camera – on a set or on a stage. He made it look easy in all respects. He was genuine. We worked together on three pictures, each time with his old partner Joe Pesci, and I always marveled at his genius for improvisation. He was a hard-working actor, he understood the world we were portraying so well that he really didn’t appear to be acting at all. I will always marvel at his artistry, and consider myself lucky to have had the chance to work with him and to know him.”
The actor also had roles in “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” “Wise Guys,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Shark Tale.”
Vincent was born in North Adams, Mass, a city in the western part of the state, but was raised in New Jersey. According to his website, he was also involved in other sectors of the arts and was a musician (drummer specifically), comedian, author and producer. For example, he co-wrote the book “A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man” in 2007.
He told NJ.com in 2009 that while he was stereotyped as an actor, he still said life was good.
“That’s the way Hollywood perceives it. They need a gangster, they call Frank or Joe. An Italian-American? Frank or Joe… It is who you are,” he said. “I’ve played other roles, but because of my New Jersey background, it lends itself beautifully to do that.”