‘Sopranos,’ ‘Goodfellas’ actor Tony Sirico dies at age 79

The entertainment world is mourning the loss of Tony Sirico, best known for his portrayals of gritty mob figures in classic films and television series such as The Sopranos and Goodfellas, who died Friday at the age of 79, as NPR reports.

Sirico’s passing was confirmed by his manager, Bob McGowen, as having occurred at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida assisted living facility, though no details about his cause of death were revealed.

Born in New York city in 1942, Sirico had early and frequent exposure to the types of characters he would someday be famous for depicting on the large and small screens, once saying that in the neighborhoods where he was raised, “every guy was trying to prove himself. You either had to have a tattoo or a bullet hole.”

In his young adulthood, Sirico fell into a rough and tumble lifestyle, ultimately serving two stints in prison for various offenses, the last of which proved to be the driver for what became his legendary acting career.

After watching a theatrical performance by a group of former convicts, Sirico decided to try his hand at the craft as well, eventually being cast not just in the mob-related roles for which he gained fame, but also in works that included films by Woody Allen and voice-overs in animated series such as Family Guy and American Dad.

Perhaps most famous for playing the role of “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in the Sopranos, however, Sirico’s death has prompted a deluge of glowing tributes from those who worked with him on the long-running drama.

As Variety noted, Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco remembered Sirico as “[a] stand up guy who always had my back and who loved my children and my parents. I have a lifetime of memories with Tony… . I hope he’s in heaven cracking everybody up now.”

Actor Michael Imperioli, also of Sopranos fame, paid tribute to his longtime colleague by saying, “Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and has big hearted as anyone I’ve ever known… . …I am proud to say I did a lot of my best and most fun work with my dear pal Tony. I will miss him forever. He is truly irreplaceable.”

Left to mourn the actor’s passing are a daughter, Joanne Sirico Bello, a son, Richard Sirico, brother Robert Sirico, and the millions of fans worldwide who will undoubtedly continue to enjoy as well as celebrate his impressive body of work.