Frank Vincent, one of Hollywood's go-to guys for mobster dramas, has died at 78.
His manager, Melissa Prophet, did not return calls and messages from USA TODAY.
Vincent, who was born in Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey, starred in three of Martin Scorsese's classics, beginning with Raging Bull (1980), followed by 1990's Goodfellas and 1995's Casino.
He also gave Tony Soprano fits as New York crime boss Phil Leotardo in the final two seasons of The Sopranos before being shot by a soldier from a rival family and subsequently run over by his own vehicle in the HBO drama's series finale.
Vincent also worked with Spike Lee in Do The Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991).
His co-stars, friends and admirers mourned him on Twitter:
Michael Rapaport called him a "consummate NYC actor."
Damn the Great Frank Vincent has passed Consummate NYC actor from Goodfellas,Raging Bull & Sopranos.Good guy who had a great sense of humor pic.twitter.com/JOVl0zEFRQ— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 13, 2017
"We lost one of our family today," acknowledged Maureen Van Zandt, wife to Steven and his alter ego Silvio Dante on The Sopranos.
We lost one of our family today. Frank Vincent. Wonderful actor and lovely man. Rest In Peace, Frankie.— Maureen Van Zandt (@MVZaGoGo) September 13, 2017
Vincent had many talents, but he stood out for two roles where he played gangsters with a menacing flair.
His highest-profile role came in The Sopranos, where his Mafia boss Phil Leotardo briefly became Tony Soprano’s main antagonist during the HBO hit’s final two seasons, but the actor’s greatest scene came in Goodfellas. In each case, Vincent’s character dies a grisly but memorable death.
In that Scorsese classic, Vincent plays Billy Batts, a Made man just sprung from prison, who brutally insults rising mob rival Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), remembering the younger thug as a shoeshine boy and ordering him: “Now, go home and get your (expletive) shinebox!”
After Tommy’s friends Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) – who delivers the classic judgment to Batts: “You insulted him a little bit” – mend fences with the returning jailbird, Tommy returns and blindsides Batts and he and Jimmy punch and kick him into submission.
The three friends then dump Batts, presumed dead, in a car trunk, before thumping noises reveal him to be barely alive but still kicking. A spray of bullets ends his life.
In The Sopranos, Vincent’s Phil is a serious, threatening rival to Tony (James Gandolfini). Phil survives until the finale, when Tony’s deal with some other gangsters opens the door for an assassin to put a bullet in Phil’s head as he gasses up his SUV with wife and two baby grandchildren in tow. As bullet-riddled Phil lies on the ground, his wife leaves the driver’s seat, the car rolls forward and the back tire crushes Phil’s head, adding the ultimate insult to an already fatal injury.
Yes, the deaths of Vincent’s characters were ugly, but mob movie and TV fans will never forget them them. They’ll also recall the actor who created such compelling mobsters, whether he had two seasons in The Soprano or just a few minutes in Goodfellas.
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