Published Dec 13, 2019Danny Aiello — the veteran actor best known for classic films like Do the Right Thing and Moonstruck — has died. His family confirmed his passing today, revealing Aiello died in hospital on Thursday night (December 12) due to a sudden illness. He was 86.
In a statement, Aiello's family said, "It is with profound sorrow to report that Danny Aiello, beloved husband, father, grandfather, actor and musician passed away last night after a brief illness. The family asks for privacy at this time. Service arrangements will be announced at a later date."
Born in 1933, Aiello grew up in the Bronx, spending his early life in the army, as well as working as a bus driver and nightclub bouncer. He didn't begin his acting career until his mid-30s.
Aiello's list of acting roles is prolific, however. In addition to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and the Cher-starring Moonstruck, Aiello appeared in such films as Robert De Niro's Bang the Drum Slowly, The Godfather Part II and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America. He also started opposite Mia Farrow in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, as well as in the director's Radio Days.
Do the Right Thing found Aiello being nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe for best supporting actor thanks to his performance as the pizzeria owner Sal.
Following the news of Aiello's passing, his Moonstruck co-star Cher tweeted the following:
Goodbye Dear #DannyAiello 💔— Cher (@cher) December 13, 2019
Danny was a Great Actor, But a
Genius Comedic Actor.We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck ..It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time.