It’s a sad day for Sopranos fans, as Tony Sirico has died at the age of 79. The passing of the beloved character actor, best known for playing Paulie Walnuts in the acclaimed HBO drama, was revealed by Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli on Instagram.
Born in New York City, Sirico began his acting career in the 1974 crime drama Crazy Joe, and went on to play Tony Stacks in Goodfellas along with a wide array of other roles. He also frequently appeared in Woody Allen films, including Everyone Says I Love You, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite, and made frequent TV appearances.
But as Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos, Sirico ensured his own immortality. The eventual capo was renowned for his love of coordinated tracksuits and off-kilter observations; more often than not the comic relief in a scene, he still delivered no shortage of humanity during the show’s toughest moments. Together with Imperioli, he anchored the episode “Pine Barrens,” widely considered to be not just one of the best episodes of The Sopranos, but one of the best episodes of television ever made.
Sirico also made several voice appearances across Family Guy and American Dad!, and as a cast member of The Sopranos twice won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (along with five additional nominations during the show’s run).