Richard Bright (actor)

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Richard Bright
Richard Bright (actor).jpg
Richard Bright
Born Richard James Bright
(1937-06-28)June 28, 1937
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died February 18, 2006(2006-02-18) (aged 68)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1957–2006
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 12 in)
Spouse(s) Elisa Granese (1957–1960)
Sue D Wallace (1967–?)
Rutanya Alda (1977–2006) (his death)
Children Diane Bright, Jeremy Bright
Parents Matilda Bright
Ernest Bright

Richard James Bright (June 28, 1937 – February 18, 2006) was an American actor best known for his role as Al Neri in the The Godfather films.[1][2]

Early life work[edit]

Bright was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, the son of English immigrants Matilda (née Scott) and Ernest Bright, who was a shipbuilder.[3]

Career[edit]

Bright began his career doing live television in Manhattan, at the age of 18, and made his film debut in Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). He also worked on several movies early in his career with his friend, Sam Peckinpah.[citation needed]

In 1965, Bright starred in poet Michael McClure's two-person show, The Beard, performing in London, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where, upon closing every night, he and his female co-star Billie Dixon were arrested for uttering obscenities and simulating sexual acts.[citation needed] The ACLU represented Bright, citing First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. In the end, the charges against Bright were dismissed; the case was considered important for free speech in general and actors' rights in particular.[citation needed]

He had supporting parts in The Getaway (1972) (as a con man who tries to ply his trade on Ali MacGraw),[2] and costarred in The Panic in Needle Park (1971) playing Al Pacino's brother Hank.

In 1972, he appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of The Godfather as Al Neri, one of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)'s bodyguards.[1] With Michael as the Don of the Corleone Family, he implements a security detail that keeps Neri and Rocco Lampone close by at all times. A deleted scene in The Godfather shows former consiglieri and family attorney Tom Hagen reviewing the payroll ledgers and finding both Neri and Lampone being paid much more than their jobs are worth.[citation needed] It is soon revealed that both Al Neri and Rocco are in fact assassins Michael has doubling as bodyguards. At the end of the first film, his character, dressed as a police officer, murders rival mob boss Emilio Barzini and his henchmen during the film's famous baptism scene.[citation needed] Bright also played Neri in both of that film's two sequels, in which he murdered both Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) at the end of The Godfather Part II, and also the Vatican banker, Archbishop Gilday, at the end of The Godfather Part III. Bright is one of six actors who appeared in all three Godfather movies (the other five are Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Tere Livrano and Sofia Coppola).[citation needed]

Bright played another hired killer, Chicken Joe, in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984).[citation needed] Other roles include Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974; uncredited), Rancho Deluxe (1975), Marathon Man (1976), Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), the film adaptation of Hair (1979), The Idolmaker (1980), Red Heat (1987), The Ambulance (1990), The Ref (1994), and Beautiful Girls (1996).

In 1993, he had a re-occurring role on One Life to Live as "Moose" Mulligan, rival and former underboss to longtime arch-villain and crime lord Carlo Hesser.

Bright continued to make a number of both commercial and independent films such as Jaded in 1996. He was erroneously reported by the Video Hound Movie Guide as having died in 1998. He continued working on stage and in television, appearing on such shows as Law & Order, Oz, Third Watch, and The Sopranos. These later performances showed Bright using an oxygen tank in all these appearances (although he suffered from emphysema, the tanks were for the characters). Bright was fond of Shakespeare and was noted for his performance as the title character in Richard III.

At home, he kept fish, a cat, and birds, and had a lifelong passion for reptiles.

Death[edit]

Bright was struck and killed by a tour bus on the Upper West Side in Manhattan on February 18, 2006.[1] He was hit by the rear wheel of the bus and pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. The driver claimed to have been unaware of the accident until he was notified upon reaching the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan, where he was interviewed by police. Ultimately, no criminal charges were filed, though the bus driver's license was suspended for failing to yield the right-of-way to Bright, who had been in a marked crosswalk with the walk sign on at the time he was struck. Bright was 68 years old at that time. He was survived by his wife Rutanya Alda, son Jeremy, daughter Diane, and brother Charles.

References[edit]

External links[edit]