According to his rep, actor Paul Sorvino, who distinguished himself in a long list of stage and screen performances including “Goodfellas” and “Law & Order,” died at the age of 83.
“I am totally devastated,” the actor’s spouse, DeeDee Sorvino, said on Instagram. “The love of my life & the most wonderful man who has ever lived is gone. I am heartbroken.”
Paul Sorvino, who was the father of actress Mira Sorvino, is best remembered for his role as Sgt. Frank Cerreta on NBC’s “Law & Order,” as Mafia don Pail Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s classic gangster picture “Goodfellas” and as Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon.”
Mira Sorvino posted on Twitter, “My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed. My heart is rent asunder – 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.”
My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed. My heart is rent asunder- 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.
— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) July 25, 2022
Sorvino has worked in more than 170 films, including guest spots in “Godfather of Harlem,” “Bad Blood,” “Undercover Grandpa,” “The Goldbergs” and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” among others.
Warren Beatty recruited him for the highly stylized crime film “Dick Tracy,” in which he played Lips Manlis, one of the odd motley crew of heavily made-up baddies.
In four of his five directorial features, Beatty cast Sorvino in — as a Communist leader in 1998’s “Reds,” a political satire called “Bulworth” in which he played the head of a big insurance firm who seeks a political favor from the senator played by Beatty, and lastly, with an ill-fated film called “Rules Don’t Apply.”
In Stone’s “Nixon,” Sorvino played secretary of state and Nixon confidant Henry Kissinger, with his next role being Fulgencio Capulet, the patriarch of the Capulets, in Baz Luhrmann’s Miami-set adaptation of “Romeo & Juliet” the following year. In 1991, he played a mob boss who was desperately trying to find a future jet pack at the heart of the story in The Rocketeer.
When playwright Jason Miller adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play for the bigscreen in 1982, Sorvino reprise dthe part of Phil Romano in “That Championship Season.” Robert Mitchum played the team’s former basketball coach, while Bruce Dern, Stacy Keach, and Martin Sheen played other members of the squad who come together for a reunion that will reveal much discord. The 1999 television version was directed by Vincent D’Onofrio.
After he directed “Rocky,” John Avildsen cast Sylvester Stallone in the hit romantic drama “Slow Dancing in the Big City.” The tale of a newspaper editor who’s a big lug (but one who’s well-known around New York) paired with a dying dancer played by Anne Ditchburn, however, was certainly torpedoed by a maudlin script.
Most of the time, however, Sorvino offered memorable support to his projects, as in William Friedkin’s 1979 heist film “The Brink’s Job” and “A Touch of Class,” opposite Glenda Jackson and George Segal. In the 1976 comedy “I Will… I Will… For Now,” starring Elliott Gould and Diane Keaton, Sorvina played a lawyer in this sex farce, according to Ebert.
In 2008’s “Repo! The Genetic Musical,” which was widely criticized, Sorvino was again trapped playing a mob boss — one who trades in human organs — but the part allowed him to sing arias on the big screen.
Sorvino worked on both the big and small screens for at least as long. He was a regular in the “Law & Order” franchise, appearing from 1991 to 1992 as Sgt. Frank Cerreta, the partner of Christopher Noth’s Det. Mike Logan, after George Dzundza quit.
In the 1994 episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” actor Joel Grey played Dr. Nikolai Rozhenko, Worf’s human foster brother. He guested on “Moonlighting” in 1986 as David Addison’s father.
In the TV movie “Dummy,” LeVar Burton played a deaf-mute who had never learned to write or sign and thus had no way to communicate himself — or defend himself when he’s wrongfully charged with murder — until a empathetic, hearing-impaired attorney played by Sorvino took his case.
He appeared on several series in addition to Law & Order, including: “We’ll Get By,” with Sorvino as a New Jersey lawyer with a family; “Bert D’Angelo/Superstar,” in which he played a San Francisco cop; and CBS’ 1987-88 crime drama “The Oldest Rookie,” in which he played an antique car racer.
Paul Anthony Sorvino was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian-American parents. He spoke fluent Italian and aspired to be an opera tenor when he started school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Sanford Meisner was one of his acting teachers. In the early 1960s, Anthony sang at charity events for a living.
In 1964, he made his Broadway debut in the musical “Bajour.” The following year, he appeared in a comic play called “Mating Dance,” unsure if he wanted to pursue an acting career. He worked as an executive at an advertising company after being uncertain whether or not to continue acting.
After appearing in the Broadway musical “That Championship Season” in 1974, he played the same year in Murray Schisgal’s “An American Millionaire.” In 1976, Sorvino directed “Wheelbarrow Closers,” a play that opened on Broadway but closed shortly thereafter.
Sorvino started his career in films with minor parts in 1970’s “Where’s Poppa?” and 1971’s “The Panic in Needle Park.”
In 2012, he directed the independent film “The Trouble With Cali,” which was written by his daughter Amanda Sorvino.
The actor, who suffers from severe asthma that made it more difficult to pursue a singing career, established the Sorvino Asthma Foundation and authored a bestseller book called “How to Become a Former Asthmatic.”
Sorvino was survived by his wife, Dee-Dee; daughters Mira and Amanda; a son, Michael; and five grandchildren.