Actor Frank Vincent died, age 78, on Wednesday. He’d had a heart attack last week and was undergoing open-heart surgery and died from surgical complications.
His The Sopranos co-star Vincent Pastore notified friends of his death.
Vincent was typecast in Mafia related roles, but with good reason.
While he first appeared on screen in the 1970s, with Joe Pesci in The Death Collector, and throughout the 80s, including Raging Bull with Robert De Niro, it was the 90s where he hit his stride.
From roles in Goodfellas, Jungle Fever, Cop Land and Made Men, they were all pre-cursors to his playing Phil Leotardo, the rival crime boss, in The Sopranos, appearing in 31 episodes of the long running TV series.
Vincent didn’t care that he was typecast either. In an interview with NJ.com he explained why.
“They need a gangster, they call Frank or Joe,” Vincent told NJ. “An Italian-American? Frank or Joe. I’m currently starring in a string of Miller Beer commercials where I am playing a gangster. It is who you are. You are a writer, reporter. That is what you do. … When I was 18 years old and playing the drums, I never thought that I would have a website and that people will be buying my autographed picture and paying money for it. I just bought a condo in Florida. Life is good. I can’t complain.”