Paul Sorvino Passes at 83

We’ve lost a lot of great performers this year, as with every year, but the number of recognizable faces in character performers gone just recently has been staggering. Unfortunately, news struck today of another as it has been reported that noted actor Paul Sorvino has died at the age of 83. Sorvino’s wife, Dee Dee Benkie, announced his passing from natural causes.

Sorvino is likely best known for Goodfellas, a role that seemed to shoehorn Sorvino into tough guy criminal types for the rest of his career, but he was a master at everything I’d seen him in.

The first time I remember registering Sorvino as an actor in a role is, of course, Paul Cicero in Goodfellas followed almost immediately by his absurd Lips Manlis in Dick Tracy. The scene that jumped out at me would have been during Cicero’s prison time as he shows how thin to slice garlic with a razorblade to make sauce. It’s a simple scene but it stands a testament to what Sorvino could convey with minimal dialog and a comfortable control of his screen presence.

Later on in life, I discovered Sorvino’s abilities as a singer in Darren Lynn Bousman’s Repo! The Genetic Opera as Rotti Largo, a successful businessman searching for the right heir to his fortune running an elective surgery and organ transplant empire. Sorvino was able to use the music to carry the weight of emotional tragedy that pervades Repo! He would later reteam with Bousman on The Devil’s Carnival and its sequel.

Along with being a terrific actor, Sorvino was also the father of actress Mira Sorvino.

What memories do you have of Paul Sorvino? Let me know in the comments below. He will be missed.

Selected Filmography:

  • The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
  • The Gambler (1974)
  • Oh, God! (1977)
  • Cruising (1980)
  • Reds (1981)
  • The Stuff (1985)
  • Dick Tracy (1990)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • The Rocketeer (1991)
  • The Firm (1993)
  • Nixon (1995)
  • Romeo + Juliet (1996)
  • Bulworth (1998)
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
  • The Devil’s Carnival (2012)
  • Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016)

-Kyle A. Goethe

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