Tony Sirico, 'The Sopranos' Star, Dead at 79

Tony Sirico, best known for portraying Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri on The Sopranos, has died at 79. The news was shared by Sopranos co-star and friend Michael Imperioli on Twitter.

"It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague and partner in crime, the great TONY SIRICO has passed away today. Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone i've ever known. I was at his side through so much: through good times and bad. But mostly good. And we had a lot of laughs," the actor wrote on Instagram. "We found a groove as Christopher and Paulie and I am proud to say I did a lot of my best and most fun work with my dear pal Tony. I will miss him forever. He is truly irreplaceable. I send love to his family, friends and his many many fans. He was beloved and will never be forgotten. Heartbroken today."

Before he was an actor, Sirico had been arrested close to 30 times before deciding to take up acting. In 1971 he was hit with charges of extortion, coercion and felony weapons possession after being arrested with a .32 caliber revolver. He was sentenced to four years in Sing Sing Prison, before his release after serving 20 months.

Sirico cemented his star power with The Sopranos, but he was no stranger to mob life in film and television. He portrayed Tony Stacks in Goodfellas, Jacko in Innocent Blood, Rocco in Bullets Over Broadway, an extra in Casino as part of Joe Pesci's crew, Cop Land, Mickey Blue Eyes and others. He was also a frequent actor in many of director Woody Allen's works.

He also provided voice work in his acting career, playing Vinny the dog on Family Guy after Brian the dog is killed in the storyline. He also showed up in live-action as himself during the show. But it was his turn on The Sopranos that made him a pop culture staple and cemented him as a popular fixture of the critically lauded series.

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Sirico's family also revealed the actor's death and noted it happened only weeks before his 80th birthday. "It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony 'Tony' Sirico wishes to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022," the family's statement read. No cause of death is known yet.