Danny Aiello, best known for his role as pizza owner Sal in 1989’s Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee, died at the age of 86. The actor died Thursday evening in a New Jersey hospital where he was receiving treatment for an infection caused by an injection.
According to Page Six, the actor died just after his family left the hospital after a visit.
Danny Aiello, known for his Oscar-nominated performance in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” died at age 86. In this 2016 interview, he reflects on his life and his iconic film roles. https://t.co/BrNl5zuHGp
– PBS (@PBS) December 13, 2019
Aiello had a long and successful film and television career with over 100 credits that began in the early 1970s. His first notable role was in the 1973 film Bang the Drum Slowly alongside Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty. And, in 1974, he played the role of Tony Rosato in The Godfather: Part II and delivered the famous line, “Michael Corleone says hello!”
In an interview with Charlie Rose in 2014, Aiello revealed that the line was not in the script.
“I do not know why I said what I said,” Aiello said. “I thought I was in trouble with the director.”
Among the other acting credits of Aiello’s career is Johnny Cammareri’s role in Moonstruck, whom he called “such a wuss.” -3 feet and over 200 pounds.
Born in Manhattan, Aiello was married to his wife Sandy Cohen for 64 years, and the couple had four children, including stuntman and actor Danny Aiello III, who died in 2010 from pancreatic cancer. The surviving children of Aiello are Rick, Jaime and Stacey
In 2014, he published his memoirs I do not know who I am only when I am someone else: my life in the street, on stage and in the cinema. And, he said that no matter what type of character he was playing, he was always trying to add some humanity to the role.
RIP to a guy whose picture is on the wall of every pizzeria that is worth eating at https://t.co/JmeQoFdWUw
– Tim Dillon (@TimJDillon) December 13, 2019
“I try to inject an ounce of vulnerability so even if people say,” I hate that bastard, “something is slipping away and they can see a human being,” Aiello said.
Many actors paid tribute to Aiello on social networks, including his co-star Do The Right Thing rappaport Michael, who wrote that Aiello was a “huge inspiration” for him personally.
Billy Baldwin, who played alongside Aiello in the 1989 television movie The Preppie Murder, wrote: “RIP #DannyAiello. From the army to the Greyhound workers’ representative to The Improv’s bouncer in Hollywood! From Johnny in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing. That smile, that laugh, that NY attitude. They do not do them anymore like Danny. What a talent … really unique. “
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