Paul Sorvino

Paul Anthony Sorvino (/sɔːrˈvn/, Italian: [sorˈviːno]; April 13, 1939 – July 25, 2022) was an American actor.[1] He often portrayed authority figures on both the criminal and the law enforcement sides of the law.

Paul Sorvino
Paul Sorvino Shankbone 2010 NYC.jpg
Sorvino at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
Born
Paul Anthony Sorvino

(1939-04-13)April 13, 1939
New York City, U.S.
DiedJuly 25, 2022(2022-07-25) (aged 83)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
OccupationActor
Years active1956–2022
Spouses
Lorraine Davis
(m. 1966; div. 1988)
Vanessa Arico
(m. 1991; div. 1996)
Dee Dee Benkie
(m. 2014)
Children3, including Mira and Michael

Sorvino was particularly known for his roles as Lucchese crime family caporegime Paulie Cicero (based on real life gangster Paul Vario) in Martin Scorsese's 1990 gangster film Goodfellas and as NYPD Sergeant Phil Cerreta on the second season of the TV series Law & Order. He also played a variety of father figures, including Juliet's father in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, as well as guest appearances as the father of Bruce Willis' character on the TV series Moonlighting and the father of Jeff Garlin's character on The Goldbergs. He took on additional supporting roles in A Touch of Class (1973), Reds (1981), The Rocketeer (1991), Nixon (1995, as Henry Kissinger), and The Cooler (2003).

Although usually cast in dramatic supporting roles, he had occasional leads in films including Bloodbrothers (1978), and also in comedic roles including his turn as a bombastic Southern evangelist in Carl Reiner's Oh, God! (1977). Sorvino was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor for the 1972 play That Championship Season, and later starred in film and television adaptations. He was the father of actors Mira Sorvino and Michael Sorvino.

Early lifeEdit

Sorvino was born on April 13, 1939, and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.[2] His mother, Angela Maria Mattea (née Renzi; 1906–1991), was a homemaker and piano teacher of Italian (Molisan) descent who was born in Connecticut. His father, Ford Sorvino, was an Italian (Neapolitan) immigrant who worked in a robe factory as a foreman.[3]

Sorvino attended Lafayette High School (where he was a classmate of painter Peter Max) and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.[4]

CareerEdit

Sorvino began his career as a copywriter in an advertising agency. He took voice lessons for 18 years. While attending The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, he decided to go into the theatre.[5] He made his Broadway debut in the 1964 musical Bajour,[6] and six years later he appeared in his first film, Carl Reiner's Where's Poppa?, starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon.[7] In 1971, he played a supporting role in Jerry Schatzberg's critically acclaimed The Panic in Needle Park, starring Al Pacino and Kitty Winn.[8]

 
Sorvino with Mitzi Hoag in 1975

Sorvino received critical praise for his performance as Phil Romano in Jason Miller's 1972 Broadway play That Championship Season, a role he repeated in the 1982 film version.[9] He appeared in another George Segal-starring film with a prominent supporting role in the Academy Award-winning romantic comedy A Touch of Class (1973).[10] In It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy (1974), he played Harry Walters, a real estate salesman randomly picked up by a beautiful woman (JoAnna Cameron) and raped at gunpoint as a prank.[11] He also appeared in the 1976 Elliott Gould/Diane Keaton vehicle I Will, I Will... for Now.[12] He starred in the weekly series We'll Get By (1975, as George Platt),[13] Bert D'Angelo/Superstar (1976, in the title role),[14] and The Oldest Rookie (1987, as Detective Ike Porter).[15] He also directed Wheelbarrow Closers, a 1976 Broadway play by Louis La Russo II, which starred Danny Aiello.[16]

In 1981, Sorvino played the role of Italian-American communist Louis C. Fraina in Warren Beatty's film Reds. He appeared in Larry Cohen's 1985 horror film The Stuff as a reclusive militia leader, alongside future Law & Order co-star Michael Moriarty. Sorvino also helped found the American Stage Company, a group that launched several successful Off-Broadway shows, in 1986.[17]

In 1991, Sorvino took on the role of Sergeant Phil Cerreta (replacing actor George Dzundza in a new role) on the popular series Law & Order. Sorvino initially was excited about the role but left after 29 episodes, citing the exhausting schedule demanded by the filming of the show, a need to broaden his horizons, and the desire to preserve his vocal cords for singing opera. Sorvino's exit from the series came in an episode in which Sgt. Cerreta is shot in the line of duty and transferred to an administrative position in another precinct.[18]

In 1993, Sorvino substituted for Raymond Burr in a Perry Mason TV movie, The Case of the Wicked Wives.[19] He had earlier appeared as Bruce Willis' father in the weekly series Moonlighting[20] and the "Lamont" counterpart in the never-aired original pilot for Sanford and Son. Some of his most notable film roles were caporegime Paul Cicero in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990)[21] and Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995).[22] In addition to Goodfellas, Sorvino also played mob bosses Eddie Valentine in The Rocketeer[23] and Tony Morolto in The Firm.[24]

Sorvino founded the Paul Sorvino Asthma Foundation, intending to build asthma centers for children and adults across the United States.[25] In 1998, he narrated the series The Big House for The History Channel. In 1999, he directed and again starred in (albeit playing a different role) a TV version of That Championship Season.[9]

 
Sorvino in 2008

In Hey Arnold!: The Movie, Sorvino voiced the main antagonist, Mr. Scheck, the CEO of Future Tech Industries, who wants to convert Arnold's neighborhood into a huge shopping mall.[26] From 2000 to 2002, Sorvino had a starring role as Frank DeLucca in the television drama That's Life.[27] He also starred in the comedy Still Standing as Al Miller, father to Bill (Mark Addy). Sorvino filmed The Trouble with Cali in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania. He directed and starred in the film, and his daughter Mira also starred in the film.[28]

Sorvino played GeneCo founder Rotti Largo in the 2008 musical film Repo! The Genetic Opera.[29] Working with Repo! director Darren Lynn Bousman again, Sorvino played God in The Devil's Carnival, a short film screened on tour beginning in April 2012.[30]

Sorvino's final motion picture The Ride will be released posthumously in 2022. Sorvino appeared alongside Dean Cain, D.B. Sweeney, and his wife Dee Dee Sorvino for his final performance. Sorvino's scenes were filmed in Jacksonville, Florida. [31]

Personal lifeEdit

Sorvino lived in Los Angeles and Madison, Indiana. He had three children: Mira, Michael, and Amanda from his first marriage with Lorraine Davis. Mira and Michael are actors.[32]

On January 17, 2007, news reports detailed that he displayed a gun in front of Daniel Snee, an ex-boyfriend of his daughter Amanda, after the man pounded on her hotel room door and made threats. Amanda testified that Snee threatened to kill her at a hotel on January 3 in Stowe, Vermont. She said she locked herself in the bathroom and called both the police and her father. Her 67-year-old father showed up before police, she testified. When police arrived, the young man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, she said. As a deputy sheriff in Pennsylvania, Sorvino was legally authorized to carry a gun in different states. He did not point the gun at Snee or threaten him.[33]

In March 2008, Sorvino and his daughter Amanda lobbied with the Americans Against Horse Slaughter in Washington D.C., for U.S. Congress to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S311/HR503). The Sorvinos run a private horse rescue operation in Gilbert, Pennsylvania.[34]

Sorvino was also an accomplished sculptor, specializing in cast bronze. In December 2008 his sculpture of the late playwright Jason Miller was unveiled in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition, he guest-starred on the 2008 album of Neapolitan singer Eddy Napoli, Napulitanata, performing a duet of the song "Luna Rossa".[35]

In 2007, Sorvino launched Paul Sorvino Foods to market a range of pasta sauces. Based on his mother's recipe, the product appeared in supermarkets in the northeastern United States in late 2009.[36] Three years later, Sorvino became part owner in Janson-Beckett Cosmeceuticals.[37]

In an April 2014 interview, Sorvino said, "Most people think I'm either a gangster or a cop or something, but the reality is I'm a sculptor, a painter, a best-selling author, many, many things—a poet, an opera singer, but none of them is gangster, but, you know, obviously I sort of have a knack for playing these things. It's almost my later goal in life to disabuse people of the notion that I'm a slow-moving, heavy-lidded thug, and most people's impression of me IS that—because of the success of Goodfellas and a few other things, but they forget that I was also Dr. Kissinger in Nixon, the deaf lawyer in Dummy, and they forget a lot of things that I've done. It would be nice to have my legacy more than that of just tough guy."[38]

Before screening his film Once Upon a Time in Queens at the Florida Film Festival in Orlando in April 2014, Sorvino revealed that he practiced New Formalism, by writing rhymed and metrical verse after the heyday of Modernist poetry, and recited one of his own poems as an example.[39]

In December 2014, Sorvino married political pundit Dee Dee Benkie after meeting her on Your World With Neil Cavuto.[40]

In January 2018, Sorvino learned that Harvey Weinstein allegedly sexually harassed his daughter Mira, and then blacklisted her within the film industry after she rejected the then film mogul's sexual demands. In response, Sorvino told TMZ, "He's going to go to jail. Oh yeah. That son of a bitch. Good for him if he goes, because if not, he has to meet me. And I will kill the motherfucker. Real simple. If I had known it, he would not be walking. He'd be in a wheelchair. This pig will get his comeuppance. The law will get him. He's going to go to jail and die in jail."[41]

DeathEdit

Sorvino died at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 25, 2022, aged 83.[42][43] He was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[44]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Where's Poppa? Owner of 'Gus & Grace's Home' [45]
1971 The Panic in Needle Park Samuels [45]
Cry Uncle! Coughing Cop [45]
Made for Each Other Gig's Father [45]
1972 Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues Taxi Driver [46]
1973 A Touch of Class Walter Menkes [45]
The Day of the Dolphin Curtis Mahoney [45]
1974 The Gambler 'Hips' [45]
1975 Angel and Big Joe Joe 'Big Joe' [45]
1976 I Will, I Will... for Now Lou Springer [45]
1977 Oh, God! Reverend Willie Williams [45]
1978 Bloodbrothers 'Chubby' De Coco [45]
Slow Dancing in the Big City Lou Friedlander [45]
The Brink's Job 'Jazz' Maffie [45]
1979 Lost and Found Reilly [45]
1980 Cruising Captain Edelsen [45]
1981 Reds Louis Fraina [45]
1982 Melanie Walter [45]
I, the Jury Detective Pat Chambers [45]
That Championship Season Phil Romano [45]
1983 Off the Wall Warden Nicholas F. Castle [45]
1985 The Stuff Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears [45]
1985 Turk 182 as Himself [45]
1986 A Fine Mess Tony Pazzo [45]
1986 Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter Gino [45]
1990 Dick Tracy 'Lips' Manlis [45]
Goodfellas Paul Cicero [45]
1991 The Rocketeer Eddie Valentine [45]
Age Isn't Everything Max [45]
1993 The Firm Tommie Morolto Uncredited[45]
1995 Cover Me J.J. Davis [45]
Nixon Henry Kissinger Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture[45]
1996 Love Is All There Is Piero Malacici [45]
Romeo + Juliet Fulgencio Capulet [45]
1997 American Perfekt Sheriff Frank Noonan [45]
Men with Guns Horace Burke [47]
Money Talks Guy Cipriani [45]
Most Wanted CIA Deputy Director Ken Rackmill [45]
1998 Bulworth Graham Crockett [45]
Knock Off Harry Johanson [45]
2000 Longshot Laszlo Pryce [45]
The Amati Girls Joe [45]
2001 Perfume Lorenzo Mancini [45]
See Spot Run Sonny Talia [45]
Witches to the North Gallio [48]
2002 Ciao America Antonio Primavera [45]
Hey Arnold!: The Movie Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck Voice role[45]
2003 The Cooler Buddy Stafford [45]
Mambo Italiano Gino Barberini [45]
2004 Mr. 3000 Gus Panas [45]
2006 Mr. Fix It Wally [45]
2007 Greetings from the Shore 'Catch' Turner [45]
2008 Last Hour Maitre Steinfeld [45]
Carnera - The Walking Mountain Ledudal [45]
Repo! The Genetic Opera Rotti Largo [45]
2009 The Wild Stallion Nolan [45]
2011 Kill the Irishman Tony 'Fat Tony' Salerno [45]
2012 The Trouble with Cali Ivan [49]
The Devil's Carnival God [45]
For the Love of Money 'Red' [45]
Divorce Invitation Daniel Miller [45]
2013 How Sweet It Is Mike 'Big Mike' Cicero [45]
Once Upon a Time in Queens Joe Scoleri [45]
The Immigrant Yeshiva Principal [45]
2015 Hybrids The Count [45]
Careful What You Wish For Sheriff Jack 'Big Jack' [45]
No Deposit Alfie [45]
Sicilian Vampire Jimmy Scambino [47]
Cold Deck 'Chips' [45]
2016 Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival God [45]
Detours Joe DiMaria [50]
The Bronx Bull Giuseppe LaMotta [45]
The Red Maple Leaf Joseph Palermo [51]
Rules Don't Apply Vernon Scott [45]
A Winter Rose 'Skippy' [45]
2017 Lost Cat Corona Uncle Sam [45]
The Last Poker Game Phil [45]
Undercover Grandpa Giovanni [45]
2018 Acts of Desperation Chief Lassiter [45]
2021 The Birthday Cake Uncle Carmine [45]
2022 The Ride Paulie Amato [52]
TBA Pursued Grandpa Posthumous release[53]
My Jurassic Place Mr. McCormack Posthumous release[54]

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1974 It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy Harry Walters Television film[11]
1975 We'll Get By George Platt Main role, 13 episodes[13]
1976 The Streets of San Francisco Sergeant Bert D'Angelo 1 episode[55]
1976 Bert D'Angelo/Superstar Main role, 11 episodes[14]
1977 Seventh Avenue Dave Shaw Miniseries, 3 episodes[56]
1979 Dummy Lowell Myers Television film[57]
1983 Chiefs Sheriff Skeeter Willis Miniseries, 3 episodes[58]
1985 Surviving: A Family in Crisis Harvey Television film[59]
1985 Wes Craven's Chiller Reverend Penny Television film[60]
1986 Moonlighting David Addison Sr. 1 episode[20]
1987–1988 The Oldest Rookie Detective Ike Porter Main role, 14 episodes[15]
1989 Murder She Wrote Al Sidell 1 episode[61]
1991–1992 Law & Order Sergeant Phil Cerreta Main role, 31 episodes[18]
1993 A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives Anthony Caruso Television film[19]
1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Nikolai Rozhenko 1 episode[62]
1994 Parallel Lives Ed Starling Television film[63]
1994 Without Consent Dr. Winslow Television film[64]
1996 Escape Clause Lieutenant Gil Farrand Television film[65]
1997 Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way Joe Torre Television film[66]
1997 Duckman President of Variecom 1 episode[67]
1998 Houdini Blackburn Television film[68]
1998 The Big House Narrator 16 episodes[45]
1999 That Championship Season Coach Television film, also director[9]
2000 Cheaters Constantine Kiamos Television film[69]
2000 The Thin Blue Lie Frank Rizzo Television film[70]
2000–2002 That's Life Frank DeLucca Main role, 36 episodes[27]
2004–2006 Still Standing Al Miller 4 episodes[28]
2009 Doc West Sheriff Roy Basehart Television film[71]
2009 Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe Santa Claus Television film[72]
2012 Imaginary Friend Jonathan Television film[45]
2012 Jersey Shore Shark Attack Mayor Palantine Television film[73]
2014 Elementary Robert Pardillo 1 episode[74]
2014 The Goldbergs Ben 'Pop-Pop' Goldberg 1 episode[75]
2016 Grandfathered Jack Martino 1 episode[76]
2017 Bad Blood Nicolo Rizzuto Main role, 6 episodes[77]
2017 Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Dr. Dominico Scarpa 1 episode[45]
2019–2021 Godfather of Harlem Frank Costello Main role, 11 episodes[78]

ReferencesEdit

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