Paul Sorvino, the Brooklyn-born actor best known for playing Paulie Cicero in Goodfellas, died on Monday. He was 83.
"My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed. My heart is rent asunder," his daughter, Mira Sorvino, confirmed on Twitter. "A life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over. He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I'm sending you love in the stars Dad as you ascend."
Sorvino was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where he studied acting at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and made his Broadway debut in 1964, starring in the musical Bajour. He made his film debut in 1970's Where's Poppa? and broke out in the following year's The Panic in Needle Park, opposite Al Pacino.
Sorvino's most defining work came in Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob drama, Goodfellas, which cast him as Paulie Cicero (based on real-life mafioso Paul Vario) alongside Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci. The film earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, with Pesci winning Best Supporting Actor.
"I'd done a lot of comedies as well as dramas, but I'd never done a really tough guy. I never had it in me," Sorvino recalled in a 2015 interview with The New York Times. "I called my manager three days before we started shooting and said: 'Get me out. I'm going to ruin this great man's picture, and I'm going to ruin myself.'" Of the film's impact on his life, he said, "I get a lot of 'Hey, Paulie!' every day. I didn't want that to be my legacy. Later on, I made my peace with it. I'm tremendously proud that I was part of it."
Sorvino's screen work also included roles as Louis Fraina, a founding member of the American Communist Party, in director Warren Beatty's Reds (1981); gangster Eddie Valentine in Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer (1991); and Fulgencio Capulet in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). The early '90s also saw him play Detective Phil Cerretta on two seasons of NBC's Law & Order.
He is survived by his wife, Dee Dee, and his three children, Mira, Michael and Amanda.
In 1996, when Mira won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Mighty Aphrodite, she dedicated the award to her father. Watching from the audience, he was brought to tears.
"When you give me this award you honor my father Paul Sorvino, who has taught me everything I know about acting. I love you very much, Dad," she said. "I always looked at great performances and was so moved by how much other people's hearts made me feel as a child. And I wanted to be an actor who could move other people and make other people see something about the human spirit, and you've made me feel that I've made a small step towards that. So thank you very much."