The Sopranos’ Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri, actor Tony Sirico, dies aged 79

The actor, who appeared in all six seasons of The Sopranos alongside James Gandolfini, died on Friday morning

Sopranos actor Tony Sirico, who played Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on the hit HBO show, has died aged 79, his family has announced.

The actor, who appeared in all six seasons of The Sopranos alongside James Gandolfini, died on Friday morning.

His manager of 25 years, Bob McGowan, told the Hollywood Reporter that Sirico had died in an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, and had been living with dementia for the last couple of years.

A statement posted on Facebook by his brother Robert Sirico read: “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 is deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolences and requests that the public respect its privacy in this time of bereavement.”

His Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli, paid tribute to Sirico on Instagram calling him “my dear friend, colleague and partner in crime”.

“Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone I’ve ever known,” he wrote. “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.”

Sirico, born in 1942 in New York City, frequently played gangsters in films throughout his career, including in Goodfellas, Cop Land and Mickey Blue Eyes. He frequently appeared in Woody Allen films, including Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You and Wonder Wheel.

He originally auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior in The Sopranos, but Dominic Chianese landed the role. The show’s creator David Chase instead offered him the role of Paulie Gualtieri, which Sirico accepted with the condition that his character “would not become a rat”.

Sirico is survived by a daughter and brother.


Sian Cain and agencies

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