Frank Vincent, the New Jersey-bred actor who brought iconic wise guys to life in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and HBO’s “The Sopranos,” has died.
He was 80.
Vincent died Wednesday at a hospital in New Jersey, his publicist told the Daily News.
“He had been ill for a few months now,” actor and friend Peter Dobson told The News. “From what I understand, he went in a few days ago in some kind of bad shape due to a complication from a prior heart surgery.”
“We were hoping he would pull through,” Dobson, who met Vincent making a short film in 2008 and was working with him on a feature titled “Asbury Park,” told The News.
“It’s hard to believe he’s gone,” actor Vincent Pastore, who also appeared on “The Sopranos,” told The News. “He was like a godfather to me. He always watched over me.”
Pastore said he was at an event Wednesday night with fellow “Sopranos” star Steven Schirripa.
“We miss him,” Pastore said.
“Frank was a great actor and always a lot of fun. He helped me get my SAG card on my first film, ‘Casino.’ He will be missed,” Schirripa said in a statement to The News.
The Massachusetts-born actor made a name for himself playing tough guys opposite fellow actor Joe Pesci.
His first break was in Martin Scorcese’s “Raging Bull,” but his most memorable line was delivered in “Goodfellas.”
“Now go home and get your f—ing shine box,” his character Bill Batts tells Pesci’s character Tommy DeVito, leading to a brutal barroom whacking.
“People talk about that one line first when they talk about Frank. That quote will go down like, (“Gone With the Wind’s”) ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,'” Dobson told The News.
“He has this legacy of always playing bad guys, but in real life, he had a giant, gentle soul and was extraordinarily caring,” Dobson said.
In “The Sopranos,” Vincent’s ruthless gangster Phil Leotardo was the nemesis of the show’s lead character Tony Soprano.
Vincent played Leotardo for 31 episodes, starting in Season 5 and wrapping up with the show’s 2007 finale.
Vincent said in 2009 that he understood that with his Italian-American heritage came the tendency for stereotypes, which were reinforced with his role on “The Sopranos.”
“I think ‘The Sopranos’ probably solidifies the misconception that people have about New Jersey to begin with,” he told NJ.com. “Because you’re from Jersey, and everybody has an accent, you are perceived a certain way… (Hollywood) needs a gangster, they call me or Joe (Pesci). An Italian-American? Frank or Joe… It is who you are.”
Maureen Van Zandt, who appeared on “The Sopranos” with her real-life husband Steven Van Zandt, took to Twitter to grieve Vincent.
“We lost one of our family today. Frank Vincent. Wonderful actor and lovely man. Rest In Peace, Frankie,” she wrote.
Vincent also had notable roles in films like “Do The Right Thing” and enjoyed a career as a drummer, playing in a band called Frank Vincent and the Aristocats at New York clubs like the Peppermint Lounge in the ’60s.
He put his hard-earned wisdom to good use in 2006 with a nonfiction how-to book, “A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man.”
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