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Danny Aiello

Danny Aiello
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Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Birth Name: Daniel Louis Aiello Jr.  

Nickname/Stage Name: Danny Aiello

Birth Date: June 20, 1933  

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Occupation: Actor  

Years Active: 1973–2019

Net Worth: $6 million (at the time of his death)
 

Personal life

Aiello was born on West 68th Street in Manhattan, the fifth of six children to parents Frances (Pietrocova), a seamstress, and Daniel Louis Aiello, a laborer who abandoned the family after his wife lost her eyesight and became legally blind. Aiello publicly condemned his father for many years, but the two reconciled in 1993, despite Aiello's resentment of his father's behavior.

Aiello lied about his age when he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 16. After three years of service, he returned to New York City and worked various jobs to support himself and, later, his family.

He worked as a bouncer at a comedy club. In 1995, Aiello married Sandy Cohen.

Aiello died on December 12, 2019, at the age of 86, in a hospital in New Jersey, after a brief illness. He was the father of stuntman and actor Danny Aiello III, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. His children are Rick (also an actor), Jaime, and Stacey Aiello, and his nephew is Michael Kay, a New York Yankees broadcaster.

Education

He attended James Monroe High School.

Career

Aiello made his film debut In the early 1970s and one of his first roles was as a ballplayer in the baseball drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), in which he co-starred with Robert De Niro.

In The Godfather Part II (1974), Aiello appeared as small-time hood Tony Rosato, ad-libbing the line "Michael Corleone says hello!" during a hit on rival gangster Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo).

In Defiance (1980), Aiello co-starred with Jan-Michael Vincent as a Manhattan resident fighting back against the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood.

His performance as a racist New York City cop in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) earned him critical acclaim and he reteamed with De Niro for the Sergio Leone gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

The actor played nightclub owner and Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby in the biopic Ruby (1992) and portrayed a big shot politician with ties to the mob in City Hall (1996).

Aiello starred in the independent film Doll Baby (2012) and in Brooklyn Lobster (2005).

Awards

Daytime Emmy Award (1981)

Boston Society of Film Critics (1989)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor (1989)

Chicago Film Critics Association (1989)

1994 National Board of Review (1994)

Quotes

"The first time I put on a dress and a wig and they took a Polaroid of me, I wanted to throw up. Except I saw a little bit of beauty in that I looked like my mother."

"I don't know anyone who curses the way they do in an Italian household. I never said the word "hell" in front of my mother. That was a different time, but I have sons and they have never said the word "hell" in front of me or my wife. That's the truth, that's the truth. There was certainly less profanity, and there was a kind of respect. It's not that I totally agreed with it, but it was a great piece of art."

"Look, people have an image of Italians. When I go somewhere in the world, I don't care where it is, when they look at me it's not about my intelligence. It's who can I beat up."

Trivia

A former bouncer at New York's comedy club, The Improvisation, he broke into the business when he started filling in there as an emcee.

Once was a bus driver and the president of the Greyhound Bus union in his 30s before he pursued acting.

Served a three-year stint in the Army, and was at one time stationed in Germany.

Sold newspapers and shined shoes at Grand Central Station in his youth.

Movies

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Bloodbrothers (1978)

Defiance (1980)

Blood Feud (1983)

The Stuff (1985)

The January Man (1989)

Deathmask (1992)

Power of Attorney (1995)

Wilbur Falls (1998)

Off Key (2001)

The Fool (2005)

Stiffs (2010)

Doll Baby (2013)

The Neighborhood (2017)

The Last Big Save (2019)

One Moment (2021)

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