Danny Aiello, Do the Right Thing and Moonstruck Actor, Dead at 86

Danny Aiello Photo: Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Oscar-nominated actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night at the age of 86, according to his literary agent. The agent, Jennifer de Chiara, confirmed the news to USA Today, adding, “The world has lost one of its greatest actors who also happened to be a wonderful human being.” Aiello was married to his wife, Sandy Cohen, for over 60 years, and is survived by his children Rick, Jaime and Stacy, and his nephew, sports broadcaster Michael Kay. Cohen and Aiello’s son, stunt performer Danny Aiello III, died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, at age 53.

Aiello began his acting career in the 1970s, and his second-ever film role was playing gangster Tony Rosato in The Godfather Part II. Aiello was best known for his role as the Bed-Stuy pizzeria owner Sal in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a role that earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination in 1990. He also played Cher’s charmingly befuddled fiancé (and Nicolas Cage’s brother) in the 1987 film Moonstruck. Aiello worked with directors Sergio Leone, Woody Allen, and Robert Altman over the course of his decades-spanning career. Despite all of the tough guys and villains he played on film, Aiello also had a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performer in Children’s Programming, for an ABC Afterschool Special in 1981. Aiello has four upcoming roles listed on IMDb, including two films in preproduction.

Danny Aiello, Do the Right Thing Actor, Dead at 86