Actor Danny Aiello, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the 1989 film Do the Right Thing, has died at the age of 86. He’s also known for the films Moonstruck and The Godfather: Part II.
Danny Aiello — A Legend
TMZ confirms that the Oscar-nominated actor passed away on Thursday night at a facility in New Jersey. He was being treated for a sudden illness and developed an infection related to his condition.
A native of New York City, New York, Aiello, who was born on June 20, 1933, had a variety of jobs before turning to acting. As a youth, he shined shoes and sold newspapers at Grand Central Station. He also worked as a bouncer at a New York comedy club, drove a bus and became the president of the Greyhound Bus union, and served three years in the military.
Aiello is survived by wife, Sandy Cohen, whom he wed in 1955. The couple had four children: Rick, Jamie, and Stacy; the couple’s son, Danny III, a famous stuntman in Hollywood who also worked on One Life to Live, died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer.
In the Beginning
Aiello’s first break came in the baseball-themed film Bang the Drum Slowly, which starred Robert De Niro. His career was varied. Aiello won a Daytime Emmy in 1981 for his role in the ABC Afterschool Special titled A Family of Strangers. He also played Madonna’s father in the music video Papa Don’t Preach. He appeared on the children’s educational series 3-2-1 Contact and had regular roles on series including Dellaventura, Lady Blue, and The Andros Targets.
But it was on the big screen where Aiello found the most success. The actor worked non-stop throughout his career. Most recently, he was working on the films The Italy Boys, Hereafter Musical, and The Black Caesar.
“I was 40 when I did my first movie,” Aiello is credited with saying on his IMDB page. “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. My interpretation of acting at the time, because I didn’t know how to build a character, was pure energy. People call me an instinctive actor. I used to consider that an insult early on, only because I had never studied. Now… I love it.
Actors who worked with the beloved figure are sharing their memories of him on social media, including Cher, who worked with Aiello in the film Moonstruck. She won the Oscar for it and said, “Goodbye Dear #DannyAiello Danny was a Great Actor, But a Genius Comedic Actor. We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck ..It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time. Goodbye #JohnnyCammareri Loretta.”
Entertainment Hub sends its deepest condolences to Aiello’s family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time.
Goodbye Dear #DannyAiello 💔
Danny was a Great Actor, But a
Genius Comedic Actor.We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck ..It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time.
— Cher (@cher) December 13, 2019
His son Danny Ariello III was the stunt coordinator for #OLTL and many other big projects, but lost his life to Cancer. He was one of the best guys to work with. They’re now reunited. RIP🙏🏻 https://t.co/ohqGMfyf0w
— Eddie Alderson (@Eddie_Alderson) December 13, 2019