Tony Sirico has gone. He was best known for playing “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos. He was 79.
According to Bob McGowan, Sirico’s manager of 25 years, he died suddenly on Friday in an assisted living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sirico had dementia for a few years, yet the cause of death was not made public.
He wasn’t just a devoted customer; McGowan told The Hollywood Reporter that he was also a good buddy.
On the HBO series, Sirico played “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, a close associate of James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano.
It pains me to say that the great TONY SIRICO, my dear friend, colleague, and partner in crime, has died today, said his Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli in a tribute to Sirico on Instagram. As tough, dependable, and kindhearted as anyone I’ve ever known, Tony was unique.
“I was by his side through so much: through good times and bad,” he concluded. but generally speaking, positive. We laughed a lot as well. As Christopher and Paulie, we got into a rhythm, and I’m glad to say that a lot of my best and most enjoyable work was done with my close friend Tony. He will always be missed. He cannot be replaced, genuinely. I send my love to his loved ones, close friends, and countless fans. He was adored and will always be remembered. Today, I’m heartbroken.
Sirico, who was born on July 29th, 1942, in New York City, joined the Army before beginning his acting career in the 1970s. In the 1974 drama Crazy Joe, starring Henry Winkler, Sirico made his acting debut.
In addition, Sirico played parts in movies including Mickey Blue Eyes, Cop Land, and Goodfellas. In addition to Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity, and Wonder Wheel, he frequently worked with Woody Allen.
A voice performance on five episodes of Family Guy as Vinny Griffin, the family’s temporary dog, was one of his TV appearances. Additionally, Sirico appeared on Lilyhammer on Netflix and provided a voice on American Dad! Miami Vice, Chuck, Medium, Taxi Brooklyn, and The Grindr are among other TV shows with roles.
The movie Respect the Jux is among his most recent creations.
David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, praised Sirico by saying, “Tony was a diamond. Buddhists describe a diamond as being both supernatural and a master. not a Zen master, though. He was very entertaining, humorous, and talented. He eventually discovered his talent and popularity in his mid-50s and early 60s, and I’m very thrilled for him. Oddly enough, I was reminded of him yesterday as I was thinking about how important he was to The Sopranos’ popularity. Gennaro, I will miss him very much. as will everyone else.”
His co-stars Lorraine Bracco and Stevie Van Zandt also recalled Sirico. “A stand up person who always had my back and who loved my children and my parents,” tweeted Bracco, star of the Sopranos and Goodfellas. My God, did we have fun competing in the Bensonhurst Spelling Bee! I have a lifetime of memories with Tony, beginning with Goodfellas and continuing with The Sopranos and far beyond. I’m hoping he’s now making everyone laugh in heaven. I love you, my friend. Additionally, Sirico and Bracco co-starred in the Funny or Die short The Bensonhurst Spelling Bee.
Co-star Zandt of Sirico’s Lilyhammer wrote, “RIP Tony Sirico. Legendary. Antonino “Father Tony” Tagliano, who played Frankie “The Fixer” Tagliano’s older brother in Lilyhammer, was Silvio’s closest friend “Paulie Walnuts” in The Sopranos. Bigger than life both on and off the screen. You will be much missed, my friend. My sincere sympathy go out to the family.
Sirico was referred to by HBO as “a fantastic, unique talent.”
His renowned portrayal of the unflinching Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos solidified his status as an icon. He was adored for his one-liners and unwavering commitment. The HBO family will miss him dearly, according to a tweet from HBO’s official account.
Joanne, Richard, and Robert, Sirico’s sons and brother, survive him.