Tony Sirico death: The Sopranos creator hails actor as ‘a main reason’ for HBO series’ success
The stars ofThe Sopranos are paying tribute to Tony Sirico.
Sirico, who died on Friday (8 July) aged 79, appeared in the HBO series as Paulie Walnuts.
The news was shared by Christopher Moltisanti actor Michael Imperioli, who said: “I will miss him forever.”
He added: “Tony was like no one else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone I’ve ever known. 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.”
Silvio Dante actor Steven Van Zandt, who also starred with Sirico in Netflix series Lillyhammer, wrote: “A larger-than-life character on and off screen. Gonna miss you a lot my friend. Deepest condolences to the family.”
Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi) called Sirico “a stand-up guy who always had my back and who loved my children and my parents”.
She added: “I have a lifetime of memories with Tony – starting with Goodfellas to The Sopranos and way beyond but my God, did we have fun doing the Bensonhurst Spelling Bee. I hope he’s in heaven cracking everybody up now. Love you, my pal.”
Series creator David Chase hailed Sirico as a “jewel”, writing: “The way Buddhists refer to a jewel – supernatural and a master. But certainly not a Zen master. He was so uproarious, so funny, so talented. I’m very happy for him that in his mid-fifties and sixties he finally learned how talented and loved he was.
He also called him “a main reason for the success of The Sopranos”.
Steve Schirripa, who appeared in the seires as Bobby Baccalieri, said Sirico was “one of a kind in all the best ways! A truly loyal friend with a gift for making people laugh, especially me.
“If you were lucky enough to be his friend you were guaranteed a good time whenever you were around him. He will be missed. Rest In Peace pal!!!”
Meanwhile, Jamie Lynn Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano, wrote: “Tony was the real deal in every sense of the word. He lived many lives, but with full passion in all of them.”
She continued: “I met him when I was 16, and he made it clear from day one that he was my forever protector, and he was. I will remember him as a tremendous talent and energy that you could never look away from. I’m so lucky to have known him. My thoughts and prayers to all that were lucky enough to be loved by him.”
Sirico died at an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, his manager Bob McGowen said. There was no immediate information on the cause of death.