Danny Aiello, Star of ‘Do the Right Thing,’ Dies at 86
The movie world lost a legend this week. Longtime film actor Danny Aiello, the star of movies like Do the Right Thing, Fort Apache the Bronx, Moonstruck, and many more, died earlier this week. He was 86 years old. According to TMZ...
... Danny passed away at a medical facility in New Jersey where he was being treated for a sudden illness. We're told he suffered an infection related to his treatment. Danny's family had come to visit him Thursday, and we're told he died shortly after they'd left that evening.
A New Yorker born and raised, Aiello got into acting after a stint in the Army. He picked up small roles in films like Bang the Drum Slowly and The Front, and has a very memorable moment in The Godfather Part II, during an assassination attempt on the life of Frank Pentageli:
Although Aiello worked steadily in film and theater through the latter decades of the 20th century, his most famous role remains Sal, the owner of the pizza shop that becomes a flashpoint for simmering racial tensions in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Aiello earned an Oscar nomination for the performance. (Note: There is some NSFW language in this scene.)
Aiello’s filmography ran the gamut from Harlem Nights to Jacob’s Ladder to Hudson Hawk to City Hall to two different Woody Allen films, Radio Days and The Purple Rose of Cairo. A few years ago, Aiello also wrote an autobiography, I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else. ’80s kids might also know him as the father in the music video for “Papa Don’t Preach”:
It all adds up to an outstanding career and body of work. We’ll give the last word to Spike Lee, who posted this moving tribute to his star on Instagram.
Gallery — The Best Films of the 2010s: