Danny Aiello, the new York actor and also former Greyhound bus employee best known for his Oscar-nominated revolve as Sal the pizza-joint owner in "Do the ideal Thing" and also for depicting Cher"s lovelorn suitor in "Moonstruck," has died. He to be 86.

You are watching: Do the right thing actor dies


Danny Aiello, the brand-new York actor and former Greyhound bus employee finest known for his Oscar-nominated turn as Sal the pizza-joint owner inDo the appropriate Thingand for portraying Cher’s lovelorn suitor inMoonstruck, has died. He was 86.

His rep Tracey Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that the actor died Thursday night after ~ a short illness in a medical facility close to his home in new Jersey.

Aiello, who didn’t start acting till he was 35, regularly played loathsome types, as in Woody Allen’sThe Purple climbed of Cairo(1985), whereby he starred as Mia Farrow’s gruff, drunken husband. In a comparable vein, he battled with Paul Newman inFort Apache the Bronx(1981), showing a crooked cop who tosses a kid off a roof.

InThe Godfather: component II(1974), Aiello played gangster Tony Rosato (his line, “Michael Corleone says hello,” said as the garrots Frankie Pentangeli, was improvised), and also he showed up as the community bookie that takes bets from Allen’s character inThe Front(1976).

A genuine charmer, Aiello likewise portrayed Lee Harvey Oswald killer Jack Ruby inRuby(1992), starred because that Paul Mazursky together a flailing Hollywood director inThe Pickle(1993) and played it for laughs alongside Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis and Diane Ladd inThe Cemetery Club(1993).

The movie he constantly said that was most fond of was the brand-new York-set29th Street(1991), in which Anthony LaPaglia play his son.

In a 2016 PBS interview through Rafael Pi Roman, Aiello detailed that Spike Lee had actually been after him to star inDo the appropriate Thing(1989) for some time. “You got me make pizzas, flipping castle in the air, that’s a an extremely ginzo thing,” the told the writer-director.

“I’m no happy act that, so ns turned it down. However he never stopped. He retained coming to places where i was, see me in a restaurant, taking me to a ballgame, taking me come a Knick game.

“I claimed to him, ‘If you give me an chance to include something to this character … I understand this character, i may understand him far better than you.” He stated Lee listened come his recommendations and allowed Aiello to supply bits that dialogue, like as soon as Sal yells in ~ the afri American children in his pizza place and says, “They thrived up on mine food.”

Lee posted on Instagram: “Just discovered Out My brothers DANNY AIELLO make His transition Last Night. Danny, us Made Cinema history Together With execute THE ideal THING. May You rest In PARADISE.”

Aiello, whonever took an acting class, was considered the favourite in the sustaining actor race entering the Oscar telecast, yet he lost out come Denzel Washington ofGlory. Still, the suffer made him feeling for the very first time the he “belonged” as an actor.

Earlier, Aiello had refused to audition for director Norman Jewison yet still obtained the part of Mr. Johnny Cammareri, he v the itchy head, inMoonstruck(1987). It significant one the the couple of times that didn’t play the tough guy.

“Danny was a great Actor, however a Genius Comedic Actor,” Cher created on Twitter. “We laughed so much making #Moonstruck. It was one of the happiest time in mine life and also he was a part of that happy time.”

One of six kids, Daniel luigi Aiello Jr. To be born in new York City ~ above June 20, 1933. The was increased on the West side of Manhattan and also then in the southern Bronx by his legally blind mother, Frances.

His father to be absent an ext times than he to be there — ”It seems he would come house once a year and my mother would have an additional child,” he toldThe brand-new York Timesin 1990 — and also his family needed welfare check to make ends meet.

Aiello endured from eczema as a child and also wore gloves in school and also to bed for this reason he wouldn’t bleed native scratching. Once he got arrested for stealing a chocolate bar indigenous Woolworth’s and also was required to the 41st Precinct police station (that would certainly be ft Apache). At 17, the left James Monroe High institution to enlist in the U.S. Army and also was stationed in Germany.

After the service, Aiello landed a task in 1957 together a package handler v Greyhound, then came to be the public-address announcer at the bus terminal top top 50th Street in Manhattan. (When ABC’sNaked Citycame there because that an illustration in 1963, gibbs Frank Gorshin told Aiello come bump into him so he would show up ~ above TV.)

He eventually ran for president of neighborhood 1202 that the Amalgamated Transit Union and won, yet he was fired after ~ a wildcat strike by employees.

Aiello go to work for Budd Friedman together a bouncer and an sometimes emcee at the Improv, wherein he met a neophyte writer, luigi La Russo II, who asked him to it is in in a pat he had actually just written. “I said, ‘I’m no an actor,"” Aiello recalled. “Yes, girlfriend are,” La Russo replied, “you simply don’t know it yet.”

Aiello played Biggie, a pop singer indigenous Hoboken, brand-new Jersey, in La Russo’sLampost Reunion, and also he and it went fromconverted churchesto Broadway in 1975, when it earn a Tony nomination for best play and also the gibbs a Theatre people award. He climate starred in the next two La Russo efforts, 1976’sWheelbarrow Closersand 1979’sKnockout(as a boxer); both played on Broadway as well.

Aiello had made his movie debut as the ballplayer nicknamed steed inBang the drum Slowly(1973) — he stated he taught co-star Robert De Niro a thing or two around how to litter a baseball — andThe Godfathersequel marked only his 2nd appearance top top the big screen.

He took a crack at starring in a TV series, play a cop-turned-private eye, however CBS’Dellaventuralasted just 14 episodes in 1997-98.

Aiello made up for his late begin in the profession v a slew of movies, includingFingers(1978), when Upon a Time in America (1984),The Protector(1985),Key Exchange(1985),The Stuff(1985),Hudson Hawk(1991), Allen’sRadio Days(1987),The Pick-Up Artist(1987),Harlem Nights(1989),Jacob’s Ladder(1990), Luc Besson’sLeon: The Professional(1994),City Hall(1996),2 work in the Valley(1996),Prince of central Park(2000) andLucky Number Slevin(2006).

On the set of Robert Altman’sReady to Wear(1994), Aiello said“Go crap yourself”toLauren Bacall after she said him to shut increase while he to be practicing his lines. And also he can never figure out why martin Scorsese never cast him. “It damages me that he didn’t paint me on one of his canvases,” he said in a 2017 interview. I’m the just Italian American in the country that hasn’t been in his pictures.”

Aiello sang “Fly Me to the Moon” in Lasse Hallstrom’sOnce Around(1991), and also he wound up releasing a grasp of jazz albums, including 2004’sI just Wanted to Hear the Words, which make it come No. 9 on the Billboard jazz chart. He also played Madonna’s dad in the 1986 music video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” directed by James Foley.

Related Stories


His memoir,I Only understand Who i Am when I Am someone Else, was released in 2014.

Aiello to be married to his wife, Sandy, for much more than 60 years. The couple had four children: young Rick, Danny III and Jaime and daughter Stacey.

Danny III, a stuntman who doubled for his dad inDo the appropriate Thingand a stunt coordinator top top FX’sRescue Me, passed away in 2010 ~ a fight with pancreatic cancer. He to be 53.

See more: Did Patrick John Flueger Leave Chicago Pd, 'Chicago Pd' Season 4 Changes

In a 2011 interview withBackstage, Aiello stated acting was “more essential than ever” after his son’s death. “It’s not only what I carry out to earn a living, yet it’s a distraction that takes me far from things that trouble me terribly, like the lose of mine son,” the said. “I intend I might say acting is medicinal. It provides me a reason to store living. Ns can’t wait to acquire up due to the fact that I’m going to act.”

Survivors also include nephew Michael Kay, a previous newspaperman and also now play-by-play male for the brand-new York Yankees. (Aiello said he “pulled some strings” to help Kay get a project with theNew York Postyears ago.)

A organization for the popular actor is set for 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in ~ 180 W. 76th St. In Manhattan. It will be open up to the public.