Tony Sirico, best known for his role as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on That sopranos, died. He was 79.
Sirico died Friday at an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., according to his manager, Bob McGowan, 25. The cause of death was not disclosed, but Sirico had been suffering from dementia for a number of years.
“Not only was he a loyal customer, he was a good friend,” McGowan said The Hollywood Reporter.
Sirico portrayed “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, a close associate of James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano, on the HBO series.
His sopranos Co-star Michael Imperioli paid tribute to Sirico on his Instagram, writing: “It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague and accomplice, the amazing TONY SIRICO passed away today. Tony was like no other: he was as tough, as loyal and as generous as anyone I have ever known.”
He continued, “I’ve been by his side through so much: through good times and bad. But mostly good. And we had a lot to laugh about. We found a groove as Christopher and Paulie and I’m proud to say that I’ve done a lot of my best and funniest work with my dear buddy Tony. I will miss him forever. He really is irreplaceable. Sending love to his family, friends and his many, many fans. He was loved and will never be forgotten. Heartbroken today.”
Born on July 29, 1942 in New York City, Sirico served in the Army before launching his acting career in the 1970s. Sirico made his acting debut in the 1974 drama Crazy Joe with Henry Winkler.
Sirico was also known for roles in films such as Goodfellas, cop country and Mickey blue eyes. He frequently worked with Woody Allen after appearing in the director’s films Bullets over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, everyone says i love you, deconstruct harry, celebrity and wheel of fortune
His TV credits included a voice role in five episodes of family Guy as Vinny Griffin, who was temporarily the family dog. Sirico also reappeared on Netflix Lilienhammer and as a voice American dad! Other TV roles include MiamiVice, lining, Middle, Taxi Brooklyn and The Grindr.
The film is one of his most recent works Respect the joke.
The sopranos Creator David Chase paid tribute to Sirico with a statement that read, “Tony was a gem. The way Buddhists speak of a jewel – supernatural and a master. But certainly not a Zen master. He was so quick-tempered, so funny, so talented. I’m so happy for him that in his mid-50s and 60s he finally found out how talented and loved he is. I was just thinking about him yesterday, oddly enough, and was reminded that he was a key reason for the success of The sopranos. I will miss him very much, Gennaro. Just like the world.”
Sirico was also remembered by his co-stars Lorraine Bracco and Stevie Van Zandt. sopranos and Goodfellas star Bracco tweeted, “An upright guy who always had my back and who loved my children and my parents. I have memories with Tony for a lifetime – from Goodfellas to The Sopranos and beyond, but my god did we have fun playing Bensonhurst Spelling Bee? I hope he’s in heaven and making everyone laugh now. I love you, my mate.” Bracco also starred alongside Sirico in a Funny or Die short The Bensonhurst Spelling Bee.
Siricos Lilienhammer co-star Zandt wrote, “RIP Tony Sirico. Legendary. Silvio’s best pal ‘Paulie Walnuts’ in The Sopranos, Frankie ‘The Fixers’ older brother Antonino ‘Father Tony’ Tagliano in Lilyhammer. A larger than life character on and off screen. Will miss you very much my friend. Heartfelt condolences to the family.”
Meanwhile, HBO described Sirico as “a enormous, unique talent. “At The Sopranos, his legendary performance as the unflinching Paulie Walnuts cemented him as an icon popular for his one-liners and unwavering dedication. He will be greatly missed by the HBO family.” statement shared on HBO’s official Twitter account.
Sirico is survived by daughter Joanne, son Richard and brother Robert.
July 8 at 9:18 p.m Updated with Chase’s statement.