‘Do the Right Thing’ star Danny Aiello dead at 86

- Advertisement -

Danny Aiello, a veteran stage and film actor remembered for his roles in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo and other movies, has died at age 86, his literary agent said on Friday.

Aiello, who earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his supporting role as Sal the pizza guy in Lee’s 1989 movie, died on Thursday night, the agent, Jennifer De Chiara, told Reuters.

“All I can say is that Danny was a rare talent and a wonderful man,” De Chiara said in an email. “The world loved Danny, and he loved them right back. He will be missed.”

Aiello’s death was first reported by TMZ, which said he died while being treated for a sudden illness at a New Jersey medical centre.

Born in New York City on June 20, 1933, Aiello held various jobs, including driving a Greyhound bus, before he broke into acting in his 30s, according to IMDB.

It was at New York’s famed comedy club, the Improv, where Aiello had worked as a bouncer that he got his start in show business filling in as an emcee, the website said.

Aiello went on to make dozens of movies, including Norman Jewison’s 1987 comedy, Moonstruck with Cher, Nicolas Cage and Olympia Dukakis. In 1986, he appeared with Madonna in a video of her hit single, Papa Don’t Preach.

[embedded content]

In 2004, his career expanded into music. He released his first single, All of Me, as well as an album of standards backed up by an eight-piece jazz band, according IMDB.

In 2015, the actor published his autobiography, I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, on the Stage, and in the Movies.

In an interview with the Sun in 2005, Aiello said that he was attracted to roles that allowed him to play real people.

“A character that lets people know where they stand … that, to me, is a great thing.”

Aiello also spoke about the significance of Do the Right Thing.

“I told Spike, that for me to do it, I would need to rewrite parts of his character. I knew that guy. I knew who he was and Spike let me bring that to the role,” he said.

Asked to pick his favourite films, Aiello named 29th Street and his Jack Ruby biopic.

“Moonstruck I liked, but my character was troublesome to me.”

Aiello had been married for nearly 65 years. He and his wife Sandy Cohen had four children, including Danny Aiello III, an actor and stuntman who died in 2010 at age 53, IMDB said.

— With files from Postmedia Network

- Advertisement -