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Hollywood is mourning the loss of three of the gangster movie genre greats, Tony Sirico, James Caan, and Ray Liotta, all of whom have died within the last three months.
Those paying tribute joked that the trio, known for their appearances in Goodfellas and other classic films, would now be having “a sit down up in Heaven”.
All three men are reported to not have expressed initial interest in acting, and pursued different paths before finding their break-out roles.
Sirico, best known for his performance as the wise-cracking Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, died on Friday July 8 at the age of 79.
It comes two days after Caan, who starred in The Godfather films, died at the age of 82 on July 6.
Goodfellas star Liotta died at the age of 67 on May 26.
The men were highly revered within the industry for their portrayals of unsavoury characters on the big screen, often appearing together, and tributes were paid to each by cast members and other famous faces.
Sirico was lauded as “truly irreplaceable” by members of the Sopranos cast and was described as “nothing like his character” in the hit HBO show.
The actor, born July 29, 1942, in New York, died at an assisted living facility in Florida, having suffered from dementia for several years.
Prior to acting he was convicted of several crimes and arrested more than 20 times.
His past is reported to have influenced his acting career and he was well known for his portrayal of criminal characters in films.
As well as the Sopranos, he appeared in gangster films including Mob Queen, Mighty Aphrodite, Love and Money, Fingers, The One Man Jury, Defiance, The Last Fight and Innocent Blood, A Bronx Story and Goodfellas – in which he played Tony Stacks.
The film featured Liotta’s starring role, playing the lead character Henry Hill, opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and directed by Martin Scorsese.
In 2021 he starred in the Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints Of Newark, after turning down a role in the original film.
Liotta was the adopted son of a town clerk and auto-parts shop owner, and insisted he never contemplated acting while growing up in Newark, New Jersey.
The actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming his latest movie Dangerous Waters, with his fiancee Jacy Nittolo who was on location at the time.
Caan starred in another of the genre’s classic titles, The Godfather films, garnering an Oscar nomination in 1973 for his performance as Sonny Corleone – the hot-headed on-screen son of Marlon Brando’s character.
The 1972 classic crime saga, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, also starred Al Pacino and Diane Keaton.
Caan was born in March 1940 in the Bronx in New York and initially fancied a career in American football before becoming interested in acting during his time at university.