‘The Sopranos’ actor Tony Sirico, well known for his role as Paulie Walnuts, died on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 79 years old.
Bob McGowan, the manager of the assisted-living facility where Tony Sirico was a resident, confirmed his death. There was no explanation as to why this happened.
Because he stole a truck full of nuts (which Tony Soprano had mistaken for television sets), Gualtieri’s nickname was “Paulie Walnuts.” He was one of Tony Soprano’s most loyal, overly sensitive, and reckless guys. During an intervention for a drug addict, Paulie would hit the man in the face when it was his turn to talk. Tony Sirico adored his mother, even though he later learned she was his aunt, and she adored him in return since he paid for her care at a costly nursing facility.
Paulie detested pets, slept on a plastic-covered recliner, wore tracksuits, and wore hookers as a form of self-preservation. On a freezing night in the Pine Barrens, he could appreciate the taste of a ketchup packet after being saddled with an almost $900 restaurant bill.
It was Paulie’s baseball bat that appeared casually slung over his right shoulder on Rolling Stone’s 2001 cover of The Sopranos cast. Mr. Sirico’s hair, which was dark and luscious, had two silver “wings” on either side, and no hairdresser on the “Sopranos” set was allowed to touch it. It was all done by him, including the drying and spraying.
Fans of Woody Allen films may recognize Mr. Sirico’s visage in brief glimpses. As early as “Bullets Over Broadway” (1994), Tony Sirico played the right-hand man of a prominent gangster turned theatre producer. While in “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995), “Everyone Says I Love You” (1996), “Deconstructing Harry” (1997), and “Wonder Wheel,” (1998), he played a prison inmate, an outlaw on the streets of Coney Island, and an escaped convict (2017).
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Jerry Sirico, a stevedore, and Marie (Cappelluzzo) Sirico were the parents of Gennaro Anthony Sirico Jr., who was born on July 29, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York City. In his mind, Junior’s first run-in with the law was when he stole nickels from the newsstand. Despite attending Midwood High School, Robert Sirico, his brother, says he didn’t graduate.
In 2001, he told Cigar Aficionado, “I grew up in Bensonhurst, where there were a lot of mob-type guys.” All the time, I kept an eye on them. I studied how they walked, how they drove, and how they approached each other. They had a mysterious aura about them, which piqued the interest of a child.”
While working as a construction worker, he succumbed to the lure of a more lucrative career. As he admitted in James Toback’s 1989 documentary “The Big Bang,” “I started running with the wrong type of individuals, and I found myself doing a lot of awful things.” Armed robbery, extortion, coercion, and felony weapons possession are all examples of bad behavior.
An ex-convict company of performers had stopped by to perform for inmates in a maximum-security prison in New York while he was there for 20 months of his four-year term. ‘I can do that!’Tony Sirico told the Daily News of New York in 1999 when he first saw them in action.
After appearing as an uncredited extra in “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), Mr. Sirico made his feature film debut in “Hughes and Harlow: Angels in Hell” (1977), which was directed by self-professed “cinema schlockmeister” Larry Buchanan. Then he spent more than a decade doing minor roles in television and movies, culminating in his portrayal as Tony Stacks in the film “Goodfellas” (1990).
Toback was the first director to give him a wide range of roles, including “Fingers” (1978), “Love & Money” (1981), and “The Pick-Up Artist” (1987) alongside Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr. in addition to starring him in his 1989 documentary about him.
Aside from “The Sopranos,” Tony Sirico has appeared in the television movies Dead Presidency (1995), Cop Land (1997 ), and Gotti (1999). (1996).
When “The Sopranos” premiered in 1999, it immediately became a huge hit. After a short time, Mr. Sirico realized that he was an extremely well-known person.
The New York Times quoted him as saying, “If I’m with five other Paulies and someone yells, ‘Hey, Paulie,’ I know it’s for me.”
It was common for him to work with his former castmates after the end of “The Sopranos” in 2007.
Steve Schirripa was Ernie in the 2008 “Sesame Street” Christmas special, and he went on to star in “Lilyhammer” with Steven Van Zandt, Michael Rispoli, and others. He also appeared with Vincent Pastore in the film “Sarah Q” in 2014. (2018).
As a voice actor, he also portrayed Vinny, a street-smart dog, in multiple episodes of “Family Guy.”
“Respect the Jux,” his role in a crime drama, was one of his many acting credits for the year.
Mr. Sirico was married for the first time at a young age and then divorced. Additionally, he leaves behind two children, Joanne Bello, and Richard Sirico; a sister, Carol Pannunzio; another brother, Carmine; as well as several grandkids.
One thing he learned from his time in the mob was to urge that his character never be represented as a rat or as someone who would betray his family’s secrets. When Paulie killed an elderly nursing home resident for interfering with his robbery of her life savings, he was astonished that no one in his old neighborhood despised him after the episode aired. He was also apprehensive to have his character kill a lady.
In the beginning, it was easy for him to forget that he had renounced the dark side.
During an interview with the New York Daily News, Mr. Sirico recalled his role as the villainous 30-year-old sitting in a class full of fresh-faced, serious theatre students. Tony, please leave your gun at home,” the teacher whispered to me after I finished my scene. I’d been carrying a gun for so long that I’d forgotten I had it on me.