Danny Aiello

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Danny Aiello
Danny Aiello.jpg
Born Daniel Louis Aiello, Jr.
(1933-06-20) June 20, 1933 (age 81)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) Sandy Cohen (1955–present)
Children Danny Aiello III[1]
Rick Aiello
Jaime Aiello
Stacey Aiello
Website
www.dannyaiello.com

Daniel Louis "Danny" Aiello, Jr. (/ˈɛl/; born June 20, 1933)[2] is an American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures, including Once Upon a Time in America, Ruby, The Godfather: Part II, Hudson Hawk, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Moonstruck, Léon: The Professional, Two Days in the Valley, Once Around and Dinner Rush. He had a pivotal role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing as Salvatore "Sal" Frangione, the pizzeria owner, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Aiello also played Don Domenico Clericuzio in a miniseries, Mario Puzo's The Last Don.

Early life[edit]

Aiello, the second youngest of six children, was born on West 68th Street, Manhattan,[3] the son of Italian American parents Frances (née Pietrocova), a seamstress who was a native of Naples, Italy, and Daniel Louis Aiello, Sr., a laborer. Aiello's father deserted the family even though his wife had gone blind. For many years, Aiello had publicly condemned his father's desertion of his children and his blind wife. Aiello reconciled with his father in 1993, but to this day harbors a resentment of his father's conduct.[2][4][5] He moved to the South Bronx when he was age 7 and later attended James Monroe High School.[5] At the age of 16, Aiello lied about his age in order to enlist in the U.S. Army. After serving for three years, he returned to New York City and did various jobs in order to support himself and later his family. Aiello also once served as a union representative for Greyhound Bus workers and was a night club bouncer at the legendary New York comedy club, The Improv.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Film and television[edit]

with actress Estelle Parsons in 1977

Aiello broke into films in the early 1970s. One of his earliest roles came as a ballplayer in the 1973 baseball drama, Bang the Drum Slowly, with Robert De Niro. Aiello had a walk-on role as small-time hood Tony Rosato in The Godfather Part II (1974), ad-libbing the famous line "Michael Corleone says hello!" during a hit on a rival gangster Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo).

In 1980, Aiello had a co-lead role with Jan Michael Vincent in Defiance, about some Manhattan residents who fight back against the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood. The next year, he received considerable acclaim for playing a racist New York City cop in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) with Paul Newman.

In 1981, Danny Aiello won a Daytime Emmy award for his appearance in an ABC Afterschool Special called A Family of Strangers.

He was paired with DeNiro again for the Sergio Leone gangster epic, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), as a police chief whose name was also "Aiello." His many film appearances included three for director Woody Allen, who cast him in Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), and Radio Days (1987).

Although his characters have often been vulgar and violent, Aiello has also portrayed sensitive, kindly men with an earthy sense of humor. He gained recognition as the befuddled fiance of Cher opposite her Oscar-winning performance in the romantic comedy Moonstruck (1987), and the actor made a comic appearance in drag for the Robert Altman fashion-industry film Prêt-à-Porter (1994). He also had sympathetic roles in the 1990 horror thriller Jacob's Ladder and the 1991 comedy-drama 29th Street. In the The Professional (1994), Aiello had a small cameo role as a nefarious cafe owner who assigns jobs to a hitman, played by Jean Reno.

He played nightclub owner and Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby in the 1992 biopic Ruby and a political bigshot with mob ties in City Hall (1996), starring Al Pacino.

Aiello starred in the independent feature film Dolly Baby (2012), written and directed by Kevin Jordan; Aiello also starred in Jordan's Brooklyn Lobster, which premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in 2005.

Music[edit]

Aiello's singing has been on display in films such as Hudson Hawk (1991), Once Around (1991), and Remedy that starred his son Ricky Aiello and Jonathan Doscher. He has released several albums featuring a big-band sound including I Just Wanted To Hear The Words (2004) and Live From Atlantic City (2008). Aiello and EMI songwriter Hasan Johnson released an album in 2011 of standards fused with rap entitled Bridges.[6]

He played the title character for the video of Madonna's song, "Papa Don't Preach" (1986), and recorded his own answer song, "Papa Wants the Best for You", written by Artie Schroeck.[7]

Theater[edit]

Aiello's Broadway theatre credits include Gemini, The Floating Light Bulb, Hurlyburly, and The House of Blue Leaves. He also was in the 1976 Broadway play Wheelbarrow Closers, directed by Paul Sorvino.

In July, 2011, opened Off Broadway in the two-act drama The Shoemaker, written by Susan Charlotte and directed by Antony Marsellis. The play is a stage version of his 2006 movie A Broken Sole, which began life in 2001 as a one-act play.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Aiello (left) with boxing trainer Teddy Atlas during Theodore Atlas Foundation's 15th annual Teddy Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, New York City in November 2011

Aiello lived in Ramsey, New Jersey, for many years.[9] He later moved to Saddle River, New Jersey.[10] He is the father of stuntman and actor Danny Aiello III, who died May 1, 2010 of pancreatic cancer,[1] Rick Aiello.,[citation needed] Jaime Aiello, and daughter Stacey Aiello. Grandfather to Dawn and Allison Aiello, Brielle Aiello, Ricky Aiello, Tori Aiello, Sydney and Gabrielle Fingerhut, Zac Aiello, Jake Aiello, and William Daniel Poppe.

His nephew is Michael Kay, announcer for the New York Yankees.[11]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Passings: Danny Aiello III". Los Angeles Times. May 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Danny Aiello Biography (1933?-)
  3. ^ AIELLO, Danny International Who's Who. accessed September 1, 2006.
  4. ^ Michael Norman (January 21, 1990). "His Bus Came In". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Danny Aiello Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  6. ^ Bridges (Media notes). Danny Aiello. CD Baby. September 27, 2011. ASIN B005SI4MSA. 
  7. ^ Liz Smith, "Papa Gets Second Chance In New Video", Sarasota Herald-Tribune (October 22, 1986), 5E.
  8. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (23 July 2011). "A Word With: Danny Aiello. Emotional Guy, Speaking for Others". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Golden, Tim. "FILM; Danny Aiello Journeys Along The Blue-Collar Road to Stardom", The New York Times, February 10, 1991. Accessed January 23, 2008. "Though friends say he is cashing paychecks of close to $1 million, Mr. Aiello and his wife, Sandy, live in the same split-level house in Ramsey, N.J., that they bought a decade ago for $125,000."
  10. ^ Saddle River, The Star-Ledger by Andrea Adams, April 28, 2005. "Last year, instead of amusements during the day, Saddle River Night featured a band concert by a 40-piece orchestra, as well as the family-style picnic and a special treat: Saddle River resident Danny Aiello sang a few songs after the band concert."
  11. ^ Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay marries news anchor Jodi Applegate

External links[edit]