Tony Sirico, the actor best known for playing mobster Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on “The Sopranos,” passed away on Friday July 8, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His death was announced in a statement from his brother Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest in Michigan.
Born Gennaro Anthony Sirico Jr. on July 24, 1942 in Brooklynn, New York, to an Italian family, Sirico spent much of his early life getting into trouble with the law, and has been associated with the real-life Colombo crime family. He was arrested 28 times — first as a 7-year-old after he stole nickels from a newsstand — before getting into acting. He went to prison twice, once after being charged for possessing an illegal weapon, and again for armed robbery.
Sirico told the LA Times in 1990, ” I was very unstable about that time in my life. I wasn’t thinking right. So, I hooked up with these guys and all of a sudden, I’m a stick-up artist. I stuck up every nightclub in New York.”
He made his acting debut as an extra in the 1974 mobster drama “Crazy Joe” alongside Henry Winkler. That film preceded Sirico’s countless later roles as gangsters and criminals, from Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990 to Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” in 1994. Sirico appeared in a number of Allen’s films, including “Café Society” in 2016 and “Mighty Aphrodite” in 1995.Tony Sirico had 82 acting credits but will more than likely be remembered most for his “Paulie Walnuts” role on “The Sopranos” from 1999 – 2007.
Sirico’ manager, Bob McGowan called him a “very loyal and great client” who “would always help people in need. He was a member of the Wounded Warriors and raised millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, wounded veterans and other charities.
Sirico’s family wrote on Facebook that they are “deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolences and requests that the public respect its privacy in this time of bereavement.”
According to the family’s post, Sirico is survived by his two children, Joanne Sirico Bello and Richard Sirico, as well as grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and other relatives.