Do the Right Thing Star Danny Aiello Dies at Age 86
It is with great sadness that ComingSoon.net must report (via Deadline) that beloved character actor Danny Aiello has passed away from a sudden illness at age 86. He was perhaps best known for his Oscar-nominated role in Spike Lee’s landmark 1989 film Do the Right Thing.
With over 100 credits to his name, Aiello made his film debut in the 1973 baseball drama Bang the Drum Slowly opposite Robert De Niro. The next year he appeared in another De Niro film, The Godfather Part II, where he improvised the famous line “Michael Corleone says hello!” during a gangland hit. Other notable roles included The Front (1976), Fingers (1978), Fort Apache the Bronx (1981), again with De Niro in Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), opposite Jackie Chan in The Protector (1985), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987) and Moonstruck (1987). In 1986 he famously played Madonna’s father in her “Papa Don’t Preach” music video, and then recorded a tongue-in-cheek answer song “Papa Wants the Best for You.”
He was elevated to a new level with his acclaimed performance as volatile Brooklyn pizzeria owner Sal in Do the Right Thing, a role originally written for De Niro. Following this success he started to take on bigger roles and earn bigger paychecks for films like Jacob’s Ladder (1990), Once Around (1991), Hudson Hawk (1991), the lead role of Jack Ruby in Ruby (1992), The Professional (1994), 2 Days in the Valley (1996) and the lead in the hit CBS miniseries The Last Don.
Aiello is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sandy, and his four children.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)