Actor Frank Vincent has died at the age of 80.
Frank Vincent, one of Hollywood’s go-to guys for mobster dramas, has died at 80.
His family issued an official statement confirming his death late Wednesday in an email to USA TODAY from publicist Morgan Pesente.
“Legendary actor and accomplished musician Frank Vincent has passed away peacefully at the age of 80 surrounded by his family on September 13, 2017. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time,” the family’s statement said.
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.
Vincent’s main scene in Goodfellas is a classic within a classic, putting the word “shinebox” in film lexicon.
CNN’s Jake Tapper noted the line in a tweet honoring Vincent Wednesday.
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).
Vincent’s friend, John Gallagher, who directed him in numerous film, wrote a fond remembrance on Facebook.
“He was an incredible jazz drummer, had impeccable comic timing honed from years on the road with Pesci, he was the perfect film actor, he had a fabulous gift for improvisation and I learned so much from him. In short, we were and remained family,” Gallagher wrote.
His co-stars, friends and admirers mourned him on Twitter:
Michael Rapaport called him a “consummate NYC actor.”
“We lost one of our family today,” acknowledged Maureen Van Zandt, wife to Steven and his alter ego Silvio Dante on The Sopranos.
Vincent had many talents, but he stood out for two roles as gangsters with a menacing flair. In each case, Vincent’s character dies a grisly but memorable death, with a twist of sickening humor.
His highest-profile job came in HBO’s The Sopranos, in which 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 that 1990 Martin Scorsese classic, Vincent plays Billy Batts, a made man just sprung from prison who insults rising mob rival Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), remembering the younger thug as a meager shoeshine boy and issuing this famous order: “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 dump Batts, who’s 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, also just back from a long prison stretch, becomes a serious threat to Tony (James Gandolfini) over the final two seasons. Phil survives until the finale, when Tony’s dealings with other gangsters opens the door for him to get whacked.
As Phil, accompanied by his wife and two grandchildren, gasses up his SUV, an assassin puts a bullet in his head. Phil’s panicked wife jumps from the driver’s seat, and the vehicle, in drive, rolls forward and the back tire crushes Phil’s head, adding 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. They’ll also recall the actor who created such compelling mobsters, whether he had two seasons in The Sopranos or just a few minutes in Goodfellas.
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