The Sopranos Star Tony Sirico Has Died at 79

Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic

Tony Sirico, The Sopranos actor who played mob man/enemy of interior decorators Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, has died at an assisted living facility in Florida. “It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and a whole lot of fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony ‘Tony’ Sirico wishes to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022,” his family said in a statement obtained by Deadline. He was 79, and would have celebrated his 80th birthday later this month.

Born in New York City, Sirico gained firsthand experience for future roles while growing up in Brooklyn; he had 28 arrests to his name before he began an acting career of roles in mobster movies like GoodFellas, Mob Queen, The Last Fight, and Bullets Over Broadway. In 1999, he joined the fictional DiMeo crime family as a cast member in all six seasons of The Sopranos, which aired on HBO until 2007. Sirico originally auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior, but was informed by Sopranos writer and producer David Chase that he was going to play a different part. “David says, ‘You’ll like him.’ And boy, let me tell you, I loved him,” Sirico recalled to Deadline in 2019. “I am still Paulie. I can’t go home no more. I am Paulie, till I pass.”

Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos, was one of several former co-stars who took to social media to pay tribute after news of Sirico’s death broke. “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,” Moltisanti wrote on Instagram. “I will miss him forever. He is truly irreplaceable. I send love to his family, friends and his many many fans. He was beloved and will never be forgotten.”

The Sopranos Star Tony Sirico Has Died at 79