Paul Sorvino, ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Law & Order’ actor, dies at 83

Paul Sorvino, an imposing actor who specialized in playing crooks and cops like Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” and New York police sergeant Phil Cerretta in “Law & Order,” has died. He was 83 years old.

His publicist Roger Neal said he died Monday morning in Indiana of 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,” his wife, Dee Dee Sorvino, said in a statement.

In his more than 50 years in the entertainment business, Sorvino was a mainstay in film and television, playing an Italian-American communist in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and the mob boss Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer.” He often said that while he was best known for playing gangsters, his true passions were poetry, painting, and opera.

Born in Brooklyn in 1939 to a mother who taught piano and a father who was a foreman in a gown factory, Sorvino was musically inclined from a young age and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, where he fell in love with the theater. He made his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in “Where’s Daddy?” by Carl Reiner. in 1970.

At 6-foot-4, Sorvino made a striking presence no matter the medium. In the 1970s, he starred opposite Al Pacino in “The Panic in Needle Park” and James Caan in “The Gambler,” and he reteamed with Reiner in “Oh, God!” and was part of the cast of William Friedkin’s bank robbery comedy “The Brink’s Job.” In the follow-up to John G. Avildsen’s “Rocky,” “Slow Dancing in the Big City,” Sorvino played a romantic role and used her dance training alongside professional dancer Anne Ditchburn.

He was especially prolific in the 1990s, beginning the decade playing Lips in Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” and Paul Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” which was based on real-life mobster Paul Vario, and 31 episodes in “Law Law” by Dick Wolf. & Sort.” He followed that up with roles in “The Rocketeer,” “The Firm,” “Nixon,” which earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” as Juliet’s father, Fulgencio Capulet. Beatty turned to Sorvino frequently, recruiting him again for his political satire “Bulworth,” which came out in 1998, and his 2016 Hollywood love letter “Rules Don’t Apply.” James Grey.

Sorvino had three children from his first marriage, including Academy Award-winning actor Mira Sorvino. He also directed and starred in a film written by her daughter Amanda Sorvino and starring his son Michael Sorvino.

When he learned that Mira Sorvino had been among the women allegedly sexually harassed and blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein amid the #MeToo reckoning, he told TMZ that if he had known, Weinstein, “wouldn’t be walking around. She would be in a wheelchair.”

He was proud of his daughter and cried when she won the Oscar for best supporting actress for “Mighty Aphrodite” in 1996. That night, he told the Los Angeles Times that he had no words to express how he felt.

“They don’t exist in any language that I’ve heard, well, maybe Italian,” he said.

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