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Actor Danny Aiello of 'Do the Right Thing' and 'Godfather: Part II' Dead at 86

Suzanne Rothberg
Danny Aiello

Veteran actor Danny Aiello who was in the films, 'Do the Right Thing' and 'Godfather:Part II' died on Dec. 12 at age 86.

Aiello died at a medical facility where he was being treated for a sudden illness, and that he had suffered an infection related to his treatment.

Aiello passed away shortly after his family left the facility after visiting him on Thursday.

Aiello is best known for his roles in 'Moonstruck', The Godfather Part II, and the Spike Lee film, 'Do the Right Thing' where he played Salvatore “Sal” Fragione, the owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn.

He broke into movies in the early 1970s by landing a small part in the Robert De Niro baseball drama Bang the Drum Slowly. After that, he performed as Tony Rosato in The Godfather Part II, in which he memorably said, "Michael Corleone says hello!"

He also starred in films, 'Hudson Hawk' and 'Jacob’s Ladder. '

Aiello earned praise in several popular '80s movies including Fort Apache the Bronx with Paul Newman, Once Upon a Time in America, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Moonstruck, where he played Johnny Cammareri, the character who Cher's character Loretta was set to marry until she fell for his brother, played by Nicolas Cage.


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Remembering Danny Aiello:RIP

Danny Aiello

Aiello was also a stage actor, performing in multiple Broadway plays including Gemini, The Floating Light Bulb and The House of Blue Leaves. He also acted in television shows including Lady Blue and The Last Don.

He told People Magazine in 1990, “You know, I’ve only been in this business 17 years,” Aiello told PEOPLE in 1990. “For actors, that’s no time at all. Everything is happening so damn fast. It’s like a beautiful dream that never seems to end.”

He was very talented and will be missed.

Danny Aiello: A Legendary Actor

Aiello's literary agent Jennifer De Chiara confirmed the actor died Thursday night.

​"The world has lost one of its greatest actors who also happened to be a wonderful human being," De Chiara said. "He will be missed."

He has more than 100 acting credits, according to IMDb, including what seems to be his final roles in the upcoming titles "The Italy Boys," "The Black Caesar," "Hereafter Musical," and "One Moment."

'Moonstruck' is by far my favorite film of the 80s. He was priceless in that film.

Aiello Was Also an Author

The actor also wrote a memoir called, wrote a memoir about his storied career in 2014, "I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else."

"It was like an incredible happening,” he told the Asbury Park Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, of the writing process. "It was like someone was opening a door for me and enlightening me. Who that was, I don’t know. But, I could hardly sleep. Most of my ideas I would catch at 2, 3 o’clock in the morning when I’m sleeping."

Aiello is survived by his wife Sandy Cohen, whom he married in 1955, and three children. His son, Danny Aiello III, died of cancer in 2010.