R.I.P. Paul Sorvino, star of Goodfellas and fan-favorite of Law & Order

The multifaceted, gangster-portraying actor was 83.

The Everett Collection

Remembered for his imposing on-screen presence, actor Paul Sorvino has certainly left his mark on the entertainment industry.

In a career that spanned for over five decades, both on the silver screen and on television, with roles on either side of the law, Sorvino is best known for his mob-boss persona, arguably best portrayed in the 1990 all-time classic Goodfellas.

Sorvino was born in Brooklyn in 1939, and grew up having aspirations to become a singer. With a wide vocal range, he wanted to use his tenor abilities to build a lucrative career on the stage. 

After his career took off, it wasn't a surprise to see Sorvino with a microphone in his hand, singing the classic Luciano Pavarotti song "O Sole Mio." He even showcased his vocal talents during the 1995 holiday special The Magic of Christmas singing "Silent Night." 

Though he had the dream to make it big as a vocal artist, Sorvino knew he needed a different path if he wanted to have the career he eventually did.

Referencing his early career in his 20s, he told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in 1978, "I sang and acted in New York, but I was only marginally effective." 

Though he may have been a late bloomer in the industry, Sorvino had plenty of success before Goodfellas and other roles in the 1990s.

He was alongside Al Pacino in The Panic in Needle Park before playing Hips in the 1974 movie The Gambler. Sorvino continued his strong decade in the 1970s, appearing in Oh, God and I Will, I Will... For Now before landing a lead romanic role in Slow Dancing in the Big City in 1978. 

Sorvino kicked-off the '90s with his career-defining role as Paul Cicero in the 1990 critically acclaimed Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas. His 31-episode stint on the hit crime show Law & Order, as Sergeant Phil Cerreta, is also one of the most remembered roles of his career.

He further embraced the mobster mentality as Lips Manlis in Dick Tracy in 1990 and as Eddie Valentine in The Rocketeer in 1991. Standing at 6-foot-4, his gangster persona was always noticeable, using his height and stature as a natural intimidating factor. 

Sorvino starred as Anthony Caruso in the TV movie A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives and portrayed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1995 film Nixon

His connection to crime continued into the 2010s as Chief Lassiter in the 2018 movie Acts of Desperation before landing a role as Frank Costello in the TV series The Godfather of Harlem

Sorvino's wife, Dee Dee, took to Twitter on Monday to acknowledge her husband's passing. He was 83. 

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forthekids 19 months ago
Paul also appeared in the 1990 "Dick Tracy":movie..he played"Lips Manlis" and he was in the Disney film"The Rocketeer".
Nala92129 23 months ago
My favorite Paul Sorvino role was that of wily, crafty televangelist, Willie Williams, in "Fun With Dick And Jane."
RobertM 24 months ago
He also narrated the documentary "The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre" (1997).
CaptainDunsel 24 months ago
One of his more offbeat roles was as head of the Capulet family (to Brian Dennehy's Montague) in the 1996 Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes "Romeo and Juliet".
Snickers 24 months ago
I believe he also played Worf's brother on an episode of "Star Trek the Next Generation".
CaptainDunsel Snickers 24 months ago
Worf's adoptive brother, Nikolai Roschenko (sp?) He was a human, rather than a Klingon.
Snickers CaptainDunsel 23 months ago
Correct but they were still brothers.
Moverfan 24 months ago
Didn't realize he was only on Law & Order for about a season and a half--could have sworn he was there longer. And I have a question I hope somebody can answer. In Mr. Sorvino's first episode, they're hunting for the guy who killed his predecessor, Sgt. Max Greevley. Is that future cast member Fred Thompson playing the shooter's lawyer? I've tried looking for his name in the credits, but you know how fast USA runs those suckers...
CaptainDunsel Moverfan 24 months ago
According to IMDB, Fred Dalton Thompson did not appear on "Law * Order" prior to season 13, and only as DA Arthur Branch.
CaptainDunsel Moverfan 23 months ago
BTW, some interesting facts about Fred Thompson. Many people think he was an actor who went into politics. (He was a US Senator from Tennessee after many years acting.) But he actually was a political lawyer first.
He was minority counsel to the Watergate Committee. (He was the one who made public the existence of recording devices in the Oval Office.) And later he represented a woman in a wrongful termination suit against the Governor of Tennessee, Ray Blanton. That case led to Blanton's removal from office for selling pardons.
When Hollywood made a movie about that case ("Marie", 1985) they needed someone to play attorney Fred Dalton, and they ended up using... Fred Dalton.
The rest, as they say, is history. So by 2002 there probably wasn't anyone more prepared to step into the role of D.A. Arthur Branch!
Sorry - that should have read "they needed someone to play attorney Fred Thompson, and they ended up using... Fred Thompson."
Moverfan CaptainDunsel 23 months ago
Sure looked like old Fred in that early episode. Anybody know who it actually was?
KawiVulc 24 months ago
Good work in a sort of parody mob boss role in See Spot Run (2001)... fun movie. RIP.
Matsui 24 months ago
When I heard the news about Paul Sorvino death, automatically the movie "Goodfellas" from 1990 comes to mind. Pauly was a great character in that Great Movie. RIP PAUL SORVINO.
UTZAAKE Matsui 24 months ago
When I heard the news of Paul Sorvino's death, automatically Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet from 1996 came to mind. The showcasing of his operatic talent in the film is the stuff of legend.
Runeshaper 24 months ago
R.I.P. Paul Sorvino. Excellent actor.
AgingDisgracefully 24 months ago
Paul was also Bert D'Angelo/Superstar for 11 episodes in 1976.
Spun off of The Streets of San Francisco, it posed the question: what if life truly IS a Quinn Martin Production? And how will I distinguish Act IV from Epilogue?
DethBiz 24 months ago
RIP Paul Sorvino. He was so great and over the top in the Larry Cohen movie the Stuff!
Sway 24 months ago
RIP Paul Sorvino. Thank you for decades of entertainment in movies and on TV.
TonyClifton 24 months ago
First you call him multi-faceted, then you call him a "gangster-portraying" actor. You pigeonholed him into gangster roles, when he played many roles throughout his career. He was much more versatile than just gangster roles.
LoveMETV22 24 months ago
R.I.P. Paul Sorvino. Love Goodfellas. Enjoyed seeing him in other movies and TV series.
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