Goodfellas Star Paul Sorvino Has Died At 83

Paul Sorvino, a memorable actor who often played hard-nosed law enforcement officers and charismatically clever criminals, has died at the age of 83. Sorvino was known most prominently for roles like Paulie Cicero in "Goodfellas" and the NYPD sergeant Phil Cerreta on "Law & Order," but leaves behind a vast legacy of performances from across all genres.

Sorvino grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York City to working class parents, before developing a love of acting and attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Sorvino got his start in theatre, making his Broadway debut in "Bajour" in 1964 before breaking into the world of film by acting alongside George Segal and Ruth Gordon in Carl Reiner's "Where's Poppa?" in 1970.

In the years that followed, Sorvino's commanding presence and Italian heritage made him the perfect candidate to play a bevy of wiseguys and ruthless antagonists, appearing everywhere from Warren Beatty's film "Reds," Larry Cohen's cult horror film, "The Stuff," Oliver Stone's "Nixon," gritty mob boss Eddie Valentine in "The Rocketeer" Tony Morolto in "The Firm," and even lending his voice to play the villain of "Hey Arnold! The Movie."

Sorvino was well aware of his typecasted image, and hoped that the world would remember him as something more than that. "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," he said in a 2014 interview. "It would be nice to have my legacy more than that of just a tough guy."

Remembering Paul Sorvino, the man

Paul Sorvino was so much more than a tough guy.

In addition to his acting presence, Paul Sorvino was an active animal rights activist, running a private horse rescue in Pennsylvania and lobbying with his daughter Amanda to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S311/HR503). Sorvino was a gifted artist, specializing in bronze sculpting, and possessing a beautifully trained operatic voice. He was given the opportunity to show off his pipes in films like "Repo! The Genetic Opera" and "The Devil's Carnival" in addition to guest-starring in a duet of the song "Luna Ross" with Neapolitan singer, Eddy Napoli. Sorvino also launched a series of pasta sauces, eventually publishing an Italian cookbook with his wife DeeDee in 2017. And yes, his recipes make sure no one puts too many onions in the sauce. (That's a "Goodfellas" reference for the uninitiated.)

Sorvino is also remembered as a fiercely protective father, frequently making headlines for the unshakable defense and love he had for his children, especially daughters Amanda and Academy Award winner, Mira Sorvino. Paul Sorvino's reaction to Mira thanking him during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress in "Mighty Aphrodite" is perhaps one of the most touching moments in Oscar history, as the noted "tough guy" is moved to tears with pride regarding her success.

Paul Sorvino is survived by his family, friends, community, and a legacy of performance that will keep him honored and celebrated for generations to come.