Frank Vincent, ‘Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas’ Actor, Dies at 78

Frank Vincent, an Italian character actor who uttered the famous line “Now go home and get your fuc*^% shine box” to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy D. in Goodfellas, died today during open heart surgery, TMZ reports. He was 78.Vincent was a beloved actor who made a name for himself playing notoriously tough characters, like Billy Batts in “Goodfellas” and Frank Marino in “Casino.

He began acting in 1976 when he co-starred in the low-budget crime film “The Death Collector” alongside Joe Pesci. Vincent then acted in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which sparked the first of many collaborations between Vincent, Pesci, and Robert De Niro

Frank Vincent, an Italian character actor who uttered the famous line “Now go home and get your fuc*^% shine box” to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy D. in Goodfellas, died today during open heart surgery, TMZ reports. He was 78.

He began acting in 1976 when he co-starred in the low-budget crime film “The Death Collector” alongside Joe Pesci. Vincent then acted in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which sparked the first of many collaborations between Vincent, Pesci, and Robert De Niro

On HBO’s The Sopranos, Leotardo often butted heads with James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano as he eventually rose to become boss of the Lupertazzi crime family.

“He didn’t fool around. Phil was serious,” Vincent said in a 2011 interview. “He had a job to do and he thought, you know, ‘This Soprano guy is from Jersey, what does that mean? We are New Yorkers! The Jersey mob is nothing — they don’t even prick their fingers when they do the ceremony.’ Some of the writing for Phil was just brilliant.”

His film résumé also included The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), Brian De Palma’s Wise Guys(1986), Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991), Sidney Lumet’s Night Falls on Manhattan (1996), James Mangold’s Cop Land (1997), Shark Tale (2004) and Chicago Overcoat (2009).

Vincent also appeared in Hype Williams’ Belly (1998) and served as the official acting coach to rappers DMX, Nas and Method Man on the film.

A native of North Adams, Mass., Vincent was raised in Jersey City, N.J. and became a drummer, performing with the likes of Paul Anka, Del Shannon, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme and Trini Lopez and the Belmonts.

Scorsese saw Vincent playing a gambler who gets killed by the mob in The Death Collector (1976) — the film starred Joe Pesci, who helped get him the role — then cast him alongside Pesci and Robert De Niro as Salvi in the iconic boxing movie Raging Bull. In that film, his character is beaten to a pulp in the Copacabana by Pesci’s Joey.

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The Cast of ‘The Sopranos’ Then and Now

Back in 1999, the world was introduced to arguably the best TV show ever created. Set primarily in New Jersey, ‘The Sopranos’ explored the story of mobster Tony Soprano, a man attempting to keep his home life, as well as his mental state, intact in a profession where a bullet could come flying around any corner.

The series was a win in all forms, with the acting, writing, dialogue and overall believability holding us captivated with each episode that aired (yes, even the finale). With that in mind, let’s take a look at where the cast of ‘The Sopranos’ is today.

Tony Soprano — James Gandolfini

Tony Soprano

HBO / Paul A. Hebert, Getty Images

Then: Back when ‘The Sopranos’ was killing it in the ratings, James Gandolfini became not only a star, but also known for his brute onscreen personality. Much to everyone’s surprise, Gandolfini’s true persona was that of a pacifist. Before ‘The Sopranos’ took to HBO, Gandolfini had played memorable tough guys in films such as ‘Get Shorty’ and ‘True Romance.’

Now: Gandolfini died suddenly of a heart attack in 2013 at the age of 51 while vacationing in Rome. His death rocked Hollywood and led to scores of tributes. Before he passed away, he had appeared in acclaimed films like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Enough Said.’ His last credit is for a film called ‘The Drop,’ slated to open later in 2014.

Carmela Soprano — Edie Falco

Carmela Soprano

HBO / Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Then: The role of Tony’s wife, Carmela Soprano, wasn’t the first time Edie Falco worked with HBO — she was already known for her role as Diane Whittlesey on the network’s prison drama ‘Oz.’ A struggling actress at the age of 30, she was given small breaks with roles in ‘Law & Order,’ ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ and ‘Laws of Gravity,’ and a big break with Woody Allen’s ‘Bullets Over Broadway.’ Yet among them all, her Emmy-winning portrayal of Carmela would be one that would change her life.

Now: Since her ‘Sopranos’ days, Falco’s career has been a continued success, earning another Emmy Award for her title role on the Showtime series ‘Nurse Jackie.’ Falco has also found herself appearing in numerous Broadway plays that have won high praise from critics and audiences alike.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi — Lorraine Bracco

Jennifer Melfi

HBO / Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Then: Certainly no stranger to the mob motif (Bracco co-starred in the Martin Scorsese classic ‘Goodfellas’), the actress known Dr. Melfi was originally offered the role of Carmela Soprano. Thinking it was too close to her ‘Goodfellas’ role, Bracco instead asked to play Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist. The choice turned out to be the right one.

Now: Today, Bracco went on to play Angela Rizzoli on TNT’s ‘Rizzoli & Isles.’ Outside of acting, she owns Bracco Wines, a line of wines that was featured on the season one finale of ‘Top Chef.’

Christopher Moltisanti — Michael Imperioli

Chris Moltisanti

Michael Imperioli.com / Jemal Countess, Getty Images

Then: Another ‘Goodfellas’ cast member, Michael Imperioli played Christopher Moltisanti,Tony’s nephew who constant struggled with drugs and alcohol. His character dreamed of being a Hollywood screenwriter, which is the exact path Imperioli took, directing and writing a few ‘Sopranos’ episodes himself.

Now: Since his ‘Sopranos’ fame, Imperioli’s credits have continued, starring in the now defunct ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Detroit 1-8-7′ and appearing in various films. He’s also appeared on the Showtime series ‘Californication.’ However, perhaps his most notable performance since ‘The Sopranos’ is the popular 1800 Tequila commercials in which he ruggedly mocks a bottle of Petron while “his” tequila pours him a shot. Yes, it’s very intimidating.

Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri — Tony Sirico

Paulie Walnuts

HBO / Roger Kisby, Getty Images

Then: Before his acting career took off, Sirico, aka Paulie Walnuts, was an actual mobster, having served two different stints in the big house in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Since then, it was goodbye crime and hello Hollywood. Oddly enough, despite his lengthy list of credits, Sirico is mainly know for playing… you guessed it, mobsters! Word has it that he agreed to play Paulie on one condition, that his character would not be a ‘rat.’

Now: Sirico seems to have slowed down since ‘The Sopranos’ ended, making appearances on shows such as ‘Chuck’ and ‘Medium.’ Lately he’s transitioned from mobsters to cops, donning badges in films like ‘Zarra’s Law’ and the awesomely named ‘Jersey Shore Shark Attack.’ He’s also logged a guest role on the acclaimed Netflix series ‘Lilyhammer’ and done some voicework on ‘Family Guy.’

Silvio Dante — Steven Van Zandt

Silvio Dante

HBO / Jason Kempkin, Getty Images

Then: Before ‘The Sopranos’ began Van Zandt was a struggling musician in some musical combo called The E Street Band headed by a guy from Jersey named Bruce Springsteen. Already having the world in the palm of his hands, Little Steven’s career hit a new high when he took on the role of Silvio Dante.

Now: Age means nothing to this guy, who consistently tours with Springsteen and the E Street Band. Aside from his first love, Van Zandt starred in ‘Lilyhammer’ and served as an executive producer on the 2013 film ‘Not Fade Away,’ which was written and directed by ‘Sopranos’ creator David Chase.

Meadow Soprano — Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Meadow Soprano

HBO / David Livingston, Getty Images

Then: Beginning her acting and singing career at the age of seven, Jamie-Lynn Sigler was cast as Meadow Soprano at just 18. In the earlier seasons, Meadow was intelligent yet somewhat troubled. However, as the show rolled on she grew into a young woman who learned the consequences of life — often firsthand, given her father’s “business.”

Now: Life post-‘Sopranos’ has been rather bright for Sigler, who guest starred on 13 episodes of HBO’s ‘Entourage’ and five episodes of ‘Ugly Betty.’ She also starred on the short-lived TV series ‘Guys with Kids.’ In August 2013, she and husband Cutter Dykstra welcomed a baby boy.

A.J. Soprano — Robert Iler

A.J. Soprano

HBO / Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Then: Iler played Anthony Soprano, Jr., or A.J., the youngest Soprano child. His character could be seen as that of a slacker, often lazy and finding various hardships during his adolescence. Iler didn’t do much television acting before ‘The Sopranos,’ mainly appearing in commercials. However, once HBO cast him it was smooth sailing…sort of.

Now: With just one television credit post-Sopranos (he appeared on ‘Law & Order’ in 2009), Iler doesn’t seem to be doing much acting today. But he did show up on the ‘2010 World Series of Poker.’ Acting aside, Iler’s had multiple run-ins with the law for cases ranging from marijuana possession to larceny.

Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri — Steve Schirripa

Bobby Bacala

HBO / Roger Kisby, Getty Images

Then: Back in the early ’90s, Schirripa was working in Las Vegas when he got a part as an extra in the Martin  Scorsese film, ‘Casino.’ It seems quick, but it was just five years after his ‘Casino’ role that he was cast in ‘The Sopranos’ as Bobby Baccalieri.

Now: Today, Schirripa is doing just fine, with minor appearances on shows such as ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Brothers’ to more prominent television roles like ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’ He also serves as the host and narrator of ‘Nothing Personal,’ a true-crime series on Investigation Discovery.

Ralph Cifaretto — Joe Pantoliano

Ralph Cifaretto

HBO / Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

Then: Having already racked up an impressive acting resume before joining ‘The Sopranos’ — appearing everywhere from ‘The Goonies’ to ‘The Matrix’ — Pantoliano’s character Ralph Cifaretto pushed him to new heights. Playing a largely unlikable mobster, his character held an immense presence from the day he stepped foot on set to the very moment of his death — which was certainly a gruesome one.

Now: Even today, ‘Joey Pants’ pops up everywhere, having appeared in everything from ‘How to Make it In America’ to ‘The Simpsons.’ Aside from Hollywood, he is an author, having penned two memoirs titled ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ and the more recent, ‘Asylum,’ in which he discusses his diagnosis with clinical depression.

Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano — Dominic Chianese

Junior Soprano

HBO / Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Then: Starting his career in Off-Broadway plays and cabarets way back in 1952, Chianese got his first televised role in 1974’s ‘East Side/West Side.’ He would then go on to appear in ‘The Godfather: Part II,’ which sparked a friendship with fellow actor Al Pacino. However, among his lengthy list of accomplishments, his portrayal of Junior Soprano garnered him arguably the most attention.

Now: Life post-‘Sopranos’ is rather busy for Chianese,  even in his 80s. A celebrated musician, he’s also been featured on HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (created by ‘Sopranos’ writer Terrance Winter), ‘Damages,’ ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager.’

 

‘The Beast In Me’: A Collection Of Tony Soprano’s Most Vicious Moments

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HBO

In January of 1999, The Sopranos burst on the scene as a new hour-long drama series on HBO. Featuring James Gandolfini in the title role as underboss Tony Soprano of the fictional DiMeo crime family, the series was one of the very first to persuade television audiences to actually root for an antihero.

Right away in the pilot episode, the show made it perfectly clear what Tony was capable of, as not even his own family (or, Family) would be immune to his violence and aggression, nor would a business associate who, in a scene that feels at least partially cliched 16 years later, hadn’t “given him his money.

As the episode concluded, Nick Lowe’s “The Beast in Me” played over the end credits. As the song goes, “The beast in me has had to learn to live with pain, and how to shelter from the rain. And in the twinkling of an eye, might have to be restrained. God help the beast in me.” The audience may not have realized it yet, but those lyrics foreshadowed what would end up being a big part of Tony’s life as a New Jersey crime boss, with a never-ending cycle of violent outbursts and tantrums.

Then again, his outbursts are one of the reasons we often look back on the character as being likeable, or, at the very least, entertaining. He didn’t take crap from anyone, and we kind of dug that. So, why not celebrate by looking back at his greatest “hits” (pun intended)?

He Beats Up His Driver For No Reason, Other Than To Show Everyone He’s Still The Boss

Tony and Perry

HBO

Poor Perry. The kid ne

ver saw it coming. Plus, he didn’t even do anything. Tony, in one of his all-time classic scenes, scopes the crowd, then picks a fight with the biggest, baddest-looking dude he can find, just to prove a point. Did Perry do anything to deserve getting the sh*t kicked out of him? Absolutely not. Did the entire crew learn a valuable lesson that day? You bet. And just for good measure, Perry later ended up apologizing to Tony for the incident. “Hey, Tone. Sorry for you beating me up earlier.” “Apology accepted, just as long as you realize…”

No Need To Get Testy

tony soprano testicles

HBO

What do you do when a non-English-speaking man disrespects you in front of your mistress? Well, if you’re a normal person, you start re-thinking some of your life decisions. But if you’re Tony Soprano? You grab him by the balls and squeeze until he runs away crying, then you pack up your sh*t and get the hell out of there before the cops show up.

He Can Dodge Bullets And Fight Off Two Would-Be Assassins Using One Arm

Tony Soprano Assassin

HBO

As a wise man once said, (okay, it was Ozzie Guillen), it’s better to be lucky than good. That wisdom certainly applies in this scene, as Tony out-wits two professional killers who might rank among the worst assassins of all-time. The callbacks to The Godfather are obvious in this scene, and our hero thankfully escapes death in a similar way.

He Makes Road Rage Look Cool

Tony Soprano Phil Leotardo

HBO

There was always something about Phil Leotardo that rubbed me the wrong way. He was definitely a bit squirrely, considering he was a high-ranking New York mob man. That’s why it was easy to root for Tony to finally get his revenge on Phil for dodging him throughout this episode in achase scene worthy of a high-budget movie. “Oh, are you alright, mister?” Classic Tony, rocking that casbah.

Sometimes, It’s Good To Have A Sidekick

Tony Soprano Furio

HBO

As we’ve already seen, Tony could more than hold his own when it came to hand-to-hand combat. But in order to be a true bad ass, it sometimes doesn’t hurt to have some muscle by your side. When it’s a man named Furio who dresses in all black? All the better. “You got a bee on you hat.”

He Could Make Matt Bevilaqua Pee His Pants Just By Looking At Him

Tony Soprano Matthew

HBO

Here you have an up-and-coming wannabe gangster, played by the kid from The Bronx Tale, thoroughly wetting himself while giving up his friends, all because he’s scared of what’s coming. He had so much anxiety, and all Tony was doing was sitting there, asking questions while puffing away on a cigar. Enjoy your last meal, Matthew. Or, diet drink, anyway.

The Staple Gun

Not much more needs to be said, right? When the camera focuses on Tony staring at a staple gun, then the next scene shows poor Mikey P sitting in his car quietly reading a newspaper, it’s pretty clear what’s about to happen. Afterwards, Tony nonchalantly wipes the staple gun clean and drops it in the street, like nothing happened.

Get A Deeper Understanding Of ‘The Sopranos’ With These Surprising Facts

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GETTY IMAGE

Originally conceiving The Sopranos as a movie, creator/showrunner David Chase had re-written it as a television series, only to have the pilot rejected by all the major networks before being picked up by HBO. While the premium channel already had a long history with original programming, The Sopranos quickly became the reason people would shell out the extra cash to add HBO to their cable package.

Here are some of the more hidden, obscure, or otherwise interesting facts about TV’s game-changing show about everyone’s favorite depressed mobster. Bone up, and then give the show another whirl on HBO Now because it really does hold up.

After the pilot was filmed, a dialect coach was brought in to help create Tony’s voice.

Sop.Pilot

The Sopranos’ pilot was shot in 1997, then shelved for nearly two years, not airing until January 10, 1999. While there are notable differences in the show’s overall tone between the pilot and the second episode, the absence of Tony Soprano’s accent is very conspicuous. Once the series was picked up by HBO, Gandolfini worked with dialect coach Doug Honorof to help create his signature voice.

Most of the cast already knew one another.

Sop.Cast

The cast of The Sopranos had worked with one another on several projects prior to the series premiere in 1999. Most notably, 27 cast members had roles in Goodfellas back in 1990. They would also appear alongside one-another in Mickey Blue Eyes, Made, Innocent Blood, andGotti, as well as non-mob movies as diverse as Two Family House, The Basketball Diaries, On the Run, and the Eddie Murphy vehicle The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Alum of The Sopranos stillperform in projects together, and HBO even got two iconic characters back together to help promote their new stand-alone streaming service, HBO Now.

Tony’s daughter thought she was auditioning for a musical.

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Actress Jamie Lynn-Sigler heard about the role of Meadow Soprano from her manager, who assumed it was for a musical based on the title. When she auditioned for the role, Sigler even brought sheet music with her to the audition, as she is an actual soprano. Even after reading the script, she still thought the show was a musical, “a weird musical, but a musical nonetheless.” To avoid further confusion, which was shared by the network, changes were made to the show’s logo to make it more clear.

There are well-placed nods to The Godfather.

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References to The Godfather have been a factor in The Sopranos since the first episode, as the movie is widely regarded as a favorite among Tony and his crew (Silvio’s Michael Corleone impersonation is a particular highlight). So, after a season-long confrontation between Tony and his Uncle Junior comes to a head, an attempt is made on Tony’s life in the episode “Isabella.” In his hands at the time? A racing form and a bottle of orange juice, which was a direct nod to The Godfather‘s well-known symbol for death.

Michael Imperioli, who played hothead Christopher Moltisanti, out of pure fandom had written a spec script about his character overdosing on drugs, causing an experience with the afterlife. David Chase gave the script consideration after seeing Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam, which Imperioli had co-written, as well as appeared in. His idea was re-written for Season 2’s “From Where to Eternity,” where Christopher has his experience in the afterlife in the hospital after being shot. Imperioli would go on to write five more episodes for the show during its run.

There was an unintended homage to Fargo.

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Probably the show’s most widely discussed episode (outside of the finale), Steve Buscemi directs the almost stand-alone story of Paulie and Christopher, hopelessly lost in the woods of south Jersey after a simple errand goes disastrously wrong. The episodes snow-covered wilderness drew immediate comparisons to the Coen brothers’ Fargo, which Buscemi himself starred in. However, he revealed on the director’s commentary track that while they had chosen that specific location for the episode’s setting, the snow was not planned. They also expected the filming to go easy, when in reality it took 12 days to shoot.

Paulie’s taste in art gives a clue to how the season will end.

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In “The Strong, Silent Type,” Paulie recovers a painting that Tony had ordered burned, instead taking it to hang proudly in his own house. After the portrait of Tony makes him uncomfortable, Paulie takes it in for a touch-up, asking the artist to paint over his suit with a uniform “like Napoleon.”

While coming off as one of Paulie’s bizarre quirks, those familiar with Chase’s method of storytelling note the fact that Napoleon’s invasion of Russia is what eventually cost him his empire, and forced him to live in exile. The war drums that played out during the end credits indicated a coming conflict with a once closely allied New York family. However, it was Tony’s brief involvement with a recurring Russian character that would be the catalyst to Season 4’s finale. The moment also played out hilariously the following year.

A series-long extra’s identity is finally revealed.

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Throughout the show’s run, the closing credits would regularly list “3 to 5, 7 to 9,” without any real indication of who that was. It wasn’t until the episode “Heidi and Kennedy,” in which two important characters’ funerals take place on the same day, when someone casually observes the character and addresses her by name, which we learn is based on her frequent attendance of wakes and funerals. While an obscure reference, it was a satisfying reward for viewers who’d paid way too much attention over the years.