“Serpico” Actor Richard Foronjy Dead at 86: 'A Legend in Every Sense'

Foronjy took up acting after spending more than eight years in prison for armed robbery and took dozens of roles in Hollywood over three decades

<p>NY Daily News Archive/Getty</p> Richard Forojny (center) in 1988

NY Daily News Archive/Getty

Richard Forojny (center) in 1988's Midnight Run

Richard Foronjy, the character actor best known for his roles in 1973's Serpico and 1988's Midnight Run, among dozens of other films, has died. He was 86.

Foronjy's family announced the actor died on Sunday, May 19, in a statement shared to Facebook on Tuesday, May 21; though a cause of death was not immediately shared, the statements reads Foronjy "passed peacefully."

"Richard was a legend in every sense. He has left an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him. With a spirit as vibrant as the sun, he embraced life with unparalleled vigor and enthusiasm," his family wrote in a statement. "Richard's outgoing nature and infectious joy illuminated every room he entered, leaving a lasting impression on all who crossed his path. Richard Foronjy's legacy of living life to the fullest will continue to inspire generations to come."

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<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty</p> Tony Danza, Richard Foronjy, Alyssa Milano and Katherine Helmond on 'Who's The Boss?'

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty

Tony Danza, Richard Foronjy, Alyssa Milano and Katherine Helmond on 'Who's The Boss?'

Foronjy was born on August 3, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York as Richard Edward Salerno, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Before getting into acting professionally, Foronjy worked as a butcher and was arrested more than 20 times; he spent more than eight years in prison after being convicted of armed robbery in his 20s, as he told UPI in a 1987 interview.

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"My first bank job brought me $170,000, a lot more than Willy Sutton ever got. I spent the money lavishly and went to Europe," he said at the time. "Eventually, it all caught up with me. I robbed an attorney at gunpoint and the cops caught me as I was driving away."

After leaving prison at 32, Foronjy worked as a butcher again and eventually took acting lessons, per UPI. He did not begin his acting career until 1973's Serpico, which starred Al Pacino and was directed by Sidney Lumet. For the following three decades, Foronjy's IMDb profile credits him with roles in 79 total television shows and films, including 1984's Repo Man, Midnight Run and 1993's Carlito's Way.

Following his film career, Foronjy published a memoir regarding his life and career titled From the Mob to the Movies in 2020 under his birth name.

"His journey as a father was marked by challenges and complexities," Foronjy's family wrote in its May 21 statement. "Richard's life serves as a reminder that we are all imperfect beings, striving to navigate the intricate depths of relationships and for some parenthood."

The actor's family added that the actor is survived by his significant other Wendy, his children Charles, Susan, Christine and Richard, as well as 17 grandchildren, a number of great-grandchildren and his three brothers.

"Though his physical presence may have departed, Richard Foronjy's spirit will live on through the countless lives he touched and the timeless performances that will continue to inspire generations to come," the statement reads.

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