'Sopranos' Actor Tony Sirico Dies At 79

 Actor Tony Sirico, best known for his role as a mafia henchman on the The Sopranos, has died aged 79.

He memorably portrayed Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, a fictional mobster playing a key role in an organised crime ring  within the  US state of New Jersey.

Co-star Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, led tributes to him.

"Tony was like  nobody  else: he was as tough, as loyal and as big hearted as anyone I've ever known," he said.

Imperioli wrote on Instagram that  the 2  actors "found a groove as Christopher and Paulie".

"I am proud  to mention  I did a lot of my best and most fun work with my dear pal Tony.  i will be able to  miss him forever.  he's  truly irreplaceable."

Sirico was 55 years old and sleeping on a cot at his mother's house in Brooklyn when he was cast  within the  iconic role that would win him two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

He played gangsters  in additional  than a dozen other mob movies, including Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

The Sopranos: A revolutionary show we'll  speak about  forever

His brother, Father Anthony Sirico, posted on Facebook that  he's  survived by his two children as well as grandchildren and "many other relatives".

Sirico was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was arrested 28 times - spending two stretches in prison.

Speaking to the LA Times in 1990, he said: "Where I grew up, every guy was trying to prove himself. You either had  to possess  a tattoo or a bullet hole."

Actor James Caan, who died on Thursday, was quoted saying of his long-time friend: "He's been  ready to  romanticise his past,  contribute  a few bangles and sparkles and use it as an actor."

"What you see  is basically  him - he just adds a little pepper,  a touch  cayenne, to spice it up."

A great, loyal client," his manager Bob McGowan wrote on Friday. "He would do anything  to assist  people in need."


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