Carmine Caridi, known for his roles in the last two films in The Godfather trilogy as well as NYPD Blue, has died at the age of 85.
Actor and director Chazz Palminteri confirmed Caridi’s passing to TMZ, stating that the actor passed away on Wednesday, May 29 after having fallen into a coma.
Palminteri explained that the 85-year-old had been admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and had slipped into a coma and was unable to regain consciousness. The reasoning for his hospitalization and death are currently unclear.
Born in Manhattan in 1934, Caridi got his start in acting at the local Boys Club, something that he credited for saving his life while growing up in a mobster-filled neighborhood. Although he served in the U.S. Army for three years during the Korean War, when he returned home, he put his focus on acting, managing to be cast in a role in Man of La Mancha and That Championship Season on Broadway.
Caridi nearly got his big break when Francis Ford Coppola cast him as Sonny in The Godfather following his screen test alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, though a reshuffling of actors to different parts ultimately saw him lose the role.
“They measured my wardrobe; I was all set to go," Caridi recalled in a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I was kind of numb. All my relatives and friends were crying. I was going with a girl up in Hudson, and I went up there and just cried my eyes out."
However, Caridi did go on to star in the franchise, with Coppola casting him as Carmine Rosato in 1974’s The Godfather: Part II and as Albert Volpe in 1990’s The Godfather: Part III. He was also cast as Sidney Lumet in 1981's Prince of the City.
Although Caridi was invited to become a member of the acting branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1982, he became the first member of the Academy to be expelled after it was revealed in 2004 that he had shared screeners sent by distributors to Academy voters for Oscar consideration.
“I sent screeners to people, besides my brother and sister, who couldn't afford them. I made a lot of people happy,” he said, though one man, Russell Sprague, had uploaded the screeners to the internet.
“I don't blame the Academy," Caridi said of his expulsion. “I did violate their law.”
Along with his role in The Godfather trilogy, Caridi’s expansive six-decades-long career earned him more than 100 acting credits, including starring as Detective Vince Gotelli in NYPD Blue from 1994-1999. His other credits include Starsky and Hutch, Taxi, Fame, and Simon & Simon. His most recent credit was a 2019 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, on which he portrayed a character named Uncle Murphy.