Actor Frank Vincent Passes at 78

Tony Sirico, left, Vincent Curatola, second from left, John Ventimiglia, center, Frank Vincent, third from right, Robert Funaro, second from right, and Dan Grimaldi, from television's "The Sopranos," pose for photographers at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Tony Sirico, left, Vincent Curatola, second from left, John Ventimiglia, center, Frank Vincent, third from right, Robert Funaro, second from right, and Dan Grimaldi, from television’s “The Sopranos,” pose for photographers at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

He was best known for his role as Lupertazzi family boss Phil Leotardo in HBO’s legendary series The Sopranos, though Vincent also had notable roles in several Martin Scorcese films: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino.

 

Vincent, an American actor of Italian descent, was born in Massachusetts but raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. He had ancestors from Sicily and Naples. He gained a reputation for playing Italian mob types after appearing next to Joe Pesci in the 1976 movie The Death Collector, where he and Pesci were both spotted by Robert De Niro, who told Scorcese about the guys. Vincent soon found himself appearing alongside Pesci and De Niro in the 1980 Oscar-winning film Raging Bull. Vincent played the notorious role of Billy Batts in 1990’s Goodfellas where he was murdered by Pesci’s character. He also had a part in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever.

It would be 1999, however, when Vincent took on his most prominent role–that of NYC crime boss Phil Leotardo, head of the fictional Lupertazzi crime family. He became Tony Soprano’s chief nemesis during the show’s final season.

 

TMZ reports that Vincent died in surgery at a New Jersey hospital Wednesday after suffering a heart attack last week.