Actor Tony Sirico, best known for his role as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri on "The Sopranos" has died, his brother Robert confirmed via a Facebook post on Friday. He was 79. The sad news was also confirmed by his co-star Michael Imperioli, who shared a photo of the two of them on Instagram on Friday.
According to Bob McGowan, Sirico's manager of 25 years, the actor passed suddenly on Friday in an assisted living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is not known how exactly Siroco died. He had been battling dementia for a few years, yet the cause of death was not made public.
Death of a Star
Sirico's death was first confirmed by his brother, who shared the sad message on Facebook. â"It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony 'Tony' Sirico wishes to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022," wrote Robert, who is a priest.
"Tony is survived by his two beloved children, Joanne Sirico Bello and Richard Sirico, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and many other relatives.
"The family is deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolences and requests that the public respect its privacy in this time of bereavement."
Soon after that, his "The Sopranos" co-star Imperioli also shared a remembrance on Instagram. "It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague and partner in crime, the great TONY SIRICO has passed away today. Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone i've ever known," wrote Imperioli.
The 56-year-old actor portrayed Christopher Moltisanti, protÃ©gÃ© to Tony Soprano, in the iconic HBO series.
Steven Van Zandt, another co-star, who played tough-guy Silvio Dante, offered his sympathies to the actor's family. "A larger-than-life character on and off-screen. Gonna miss you a lot my friend," he wrote.
A Big Influence
According to sources who spoke to TMZ, Sirico, born Gennaro Anthony Sirico Jr., had been residing at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida assisted living facility for a few years owing to his deteriorating health. His cause of death is yet to be revealed.
He apparently had been deteriorating for a while, and he passed away in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida assisted care facility.
Sirico's manager Bob McGowan confirmed the news to Variety calling him "a very loyal and great client" who "would always help people in need. He was member of the wounded warriors."
Sirico, who was born on July 29th, 1942, in New York City, joined the Army before beginning his acting career in the 1970s. Sirico made his acting debut in the 1974 drama "Crazy Joe", starring Henry Winkler.
Sirico also played important roles in movies such as "Mickey Blue Eyes", "Cop Land", and "Goodfellas". Besides, frequently collaborated with Woody Allen and worked in his films like "Bullets Over Broadway", "Mighty Aphrodite", "Everyone Says I Love You", "Deconstructing Harry", "Celebrity", and "Wonder Wheel."
When Sirico was cast as Walnuts, he was 55 years old and snoozing on a cot in his mother's Brooklyn living room. He initially appeared in the auditions for Dominic Chianese's Uncle Junior role.
Interestingly, the late actor was arrested several times. He was just 7 years old the first time he got arrested for stealing nickels from a newspaper stand. He would be arrested 28 more times and would make two trips to the jail.
He also served 20 months of his sentence for felony firearm possession in 1971 at the infamous Sing Sing prison.
He most recent work includes the film "Respect the Jux." Sirico is survived by daughter Joanne, son Richard and brother Robert.