The Sopranos Star Tony Sirico Dies at 79

Tony Sirico, the actor best known for portraying Peter Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in the smash hit series The Sopranos, has passed away at the age of 79. The news was broken via his The Sopranos co-star Micael Imperioli, who took to Instagram on Friday to memorialize the actor. Imperioli's post revealed that Sirico passed away on Friday, July 8th. Sirico's manager has since confirmed to The Wrap that he passed away in an assisted living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague and partner in crime, the great TONY SIRICO has passed away today," Imperioli's post reads. "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. 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."

Born in New York City on July 29, 1942, Sirico was arrested 28 different times before becoming interested in acting amid a stint in prison, following a visit from an acting troupe composed of ex-convicts. Sirico made his onscreen debut as an extra in the 1974 film Crazy Joe. He proceeded to make appearances in programs like Kojak, Police Squad!, and Miami Vice. Sirico often portrayed gangster characters in a number of films and television shows, including GoodfellasMob QueenMighty AphroditeLove and MoneyFingersThe One Man JuryDefianceThe Last FightInnocent BloodBullets over BroadwayThe Pick-up Artist, Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, and Gotti. 

In 1999, Sirico began to play Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri in The Sopranos, portraying the fan-favorite across 74 episodes of the series, as well as its tie-in video game. While Sirico had originally auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior in the series, which ultimately went to Dominic Chianese, he was offered the role of Paulie by series creator Chase, and reportedly only said yes if his character "would not become a rat."

Following The Sopranos, Sirico's work included voicing Vinny Griffin on Family Guy, portraying Tony Tagliano on Lilyhammer, and appearing in projects like The Grinder and Sarah Q. Sirico's posthumous work will include roles in Super Athlete, Street Justice, and All Mobbed Up. 

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Our thoughts are with Sirico's family, friends, and fans at this time.