Law & Order actor Paul Sorvino dies at 83
Paul Sorvino, a towering actor specializing in the role of crooks and cops like Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” and NYPD 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 said, Dee Dee Sorvino, in a statement.
In more than 50 years in the entertainment business, Sorvino has been a mainstay of film and television, playing an Italian-American communist in Warren Beatty’s ‘Reds’, Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s ‘Nixon’ and the chef mobster Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer”. He often said that although he was best known for playing gangsters, his real 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 dress factory, Sorvino was interested in music from an early age and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. York where he fell in love with the theatre. He made his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in “Where’s Poppa?” by Carl Reiner. in 1970.
With his 6-foot-4 stature, Sorvino made an impactful presence no matter the medium. In the 1970s he starred opposite Al Pacino in “The Panic in Needle Park” and with James Caan in “The Gambler”, reworked with Reiner in “Oh, God!” and was part of the set of William Friedkin’s bank robbery comedy “The Brink’s Job”. In John G. Avildsen’s “Rocky” sequel “Slow Dancing in the Big City,” Sorvino got to play a romantic lead role and use his dance training opposite professional ballerina Anne Ditchburn.
He was particularly prolific in the 1990s, kicking off 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 on “Law ” by Dick Wolf. & Order.” He followed those 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 often turned to Sorvino, enlisting him again for his 1998 political satire “Bulworth” and his 2016 Hollywood love letter “Rules Don’t Apply.” He also appeared in “The Immigrant” by James Gray.
Sorvino had three children from his first marriage, including Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino. He also directed and starred in a film written by his daughter Amanda Sorvino and starring his son Michael Sorvino.
When he learned that Mira Sorvino was among the women who were allegedly sexually harassed and blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein amid the #MeToo account, Sorvino told TMZ that if he had known, Weinstein “wouldn’t work. He would be in a wheelchair.”
He was proud of his daughter and wept when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ in 1996. He told the Los Angeles Times that night that he didn’t have the words to express how he felt.
“They don’t exist in any language I’ve ever heard – well, maybe Italian,” he said.