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Following the news that character actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night, friends and peers of the “Moonstruck” actor shared their remembrances via social media. Aiello — whose body of work included Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “The Godfather Part II” and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” music video — was 86.
Aiello’s Academy Award-nominated performance as Salvatore “Sal” Frangione in Lee’s 1989 classic was most frequently mentioned; Lee himself led the litany of tributes to the accomplished actor on Instagram.
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“We Made Cinema History Together With ‘DO THE RIGHT THING.’ May You Rest In PARADISE,” the caption reads.
I’m 💜 Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny,We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE.🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿
A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on Dec 13, 2019 at 7:02am PST
Cher took to Twitter to share her condolences, saying that making “Moonstruck” with Aiello was one of the happiest times of her life.
Goodbye Dear #DannyAiello 💔
Danny was a Great Actor, But a
Genius Comedic Actor.We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck ..It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time.
Mia Farrow — who worked with Aiello on “The Purple Rose of Cairo” — sent condolences and love to his family.
So very sad to hear that Danny Aiello has died. He was a superb actor and a lovely person. It was a joy and an honor to work with him (in Broadway Danny Rose) Condolences and love to his family https://t.co/NSeGCes6sy
“Russian Doll” actor Natasha Lyonne shared her love for “Jacob’s Ladder.”
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) October 12, 2018
“Atypical” actor Michael Rapaport shared a sweet video on Twitter of himself and Aiello, calling the late actor a huge inspiration.
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) December 13, 2019
Billy Baldwin shared his tribute on both Twitter and Instagram, calling Aiello “one of the great raconteur storytellers of all time.”
From the Army to Greyhound labor rep to bouncer at The Improv to Hollywood stardom!!
From Johnny in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing.
That smile, that laugh, that NY attitude.
They don’t make ‘em like Danny anymore.
What a talent… a true one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/ssaw9QvAVt
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) December 13, 2019
RIP #DannyAiello From the US Army to Greyhound labor rep to bouncer at The Improv to Hollywood stardom!! From Johnny Cammareri in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing… one of the greatest films ever made. That smile, that laugh, that New York attitude. One of the great raconteur storytellers of all time… and trust me I’ve been around the best. They don’t make ‘em like this guy anymore people. What a talent… a true one of a kind. My condolences to Sandy and the whole family. Godspeed Danny Aiello. ♥️🙏🏽
A post shared by Billy Baldwin (@thebillybaldwin) on Dec 13, 2019 at 6:42am PST
Josh Gad thanked Aiello on social media for his iconic performances.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) December 13, 2019
Kirk Acevedo (“Arrow”) shared a story about the first time he met Aiello.
Rest In Peace my friend.
We lost a great actor today,
BUT more importantly we lost
a great person!
First day I met Danny he took me under his wing gave me advice on the business and life all the while driving me home in his Cadillac.
You’ll be missed!#DannyAiello🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/UsaFQQsfsx
— kirk acevedo (@kirkacevedo) December 13, 2019
“RIP my friend. So sad to see you go. Will miss our calls and your big hugs. #DannyAiello,” Jane Rosenthal, film producer and co-Founder, CEO and chairwoman of Tribeca Enterprises, tweeted.
— jane rosenthal (@janetribeca) December 13, 2019
“Point Break” actor Gloria Mann called Aiello a “great actor” and “kind soul.”
We lost a great actor & a kind soul. I met Danny as a young actor & waitress in LA. Eveytime he came in he asked for me. And every time he left me a hundred dollar bill as a tip- “put it in the acting kitty”. We worked together once. Rest In Peace my friend. #DannyAiello ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2Eirx5cX3N
— gloria mann (@GloriaMann22) December 13, 2019
Aiello’s nephew, sports broadcaster Michael Kay, thanked everyone for their condolences on Twitter: “I would like to thank all of those sending their condolences on the passing of my uncle, Danny Aiello. He was a terrific man, self made, coming from nothing to be an Academy Award nominated actor. He loved his family dearly, adored his wife of 64 years, my Aunt Sandy.”
I would like to thank all of those sending their condolences on the passing of my uncle, Danny Aiello. He was a terrific man, self made, coming from nothing to be an Academy Award nominated actor. He loved his family dearly, adored his wife of 64 years, my Aunt Sandy.
— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) December 13, 2019
Deirdre O’Connor, the writer and director of Aiello’s last film, “One Moment,” also shared a statement following his death: Danny inspired ‘One Moment’s’ entire cast and crew with his professionalism, kindness, generosity and warmth. I am so deeply saddened that he will not be able to share in the completed film with us and I sincerely hope it will be the tribute that he deserves.”
Aiello’s Facebook page was updated with a statement following his death:
“It is with profound sorrow to report that Danny Aiello, beloved husband, father, grandfather, actor and musician passed away last night after a brief illness. The family asks for privacy at this time. Service arrangements will be announced at a later date.”
Aiello is immediately survived by three children, Rick, Jaime and Stacey Aiello.
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