Do The Right Thing Actor Danny Aiello Has Died At 86

Danny Aiello in Jacob's Ladder

It seems we're in the middle of one of those periods of time where we're apparently just going to lose one great star after another. It's only been a few days since we lost Rene Auberjonois and Big Bird performer Caroll Spinney on the same day, and now, news has come that we've lost another valuable actor. Academy Award nominee Danny Aiello has died at the age of 86.

TMZ has the report that Danny Aiello died at a medical facility in New Jersey sometime yesterday evening. He had apparently been admitted there for a recent surprise illness, but according to the report, it appears to have been an infection Aiello picked up as part of his treatment for the illness that was the actual cause of death.

Danny Aiello racked up more than 100 acting credits in a career that spanned more than 40 years. He made his debut in 1973's Bang the Drum Slowly, which was followed up in short order with the role of Tomny Rosato in The Godfather: Part II. Aiello would frequently play Italian mobsters in his roles forever after, but over his long career he still had opportunities to do more. He had roles in Once Upon a Time in America, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Moonstruck. He played Madonna's father in her "Papa Don't Preach" music video. The man basically had every sort of role under the sun at one time or another.

The high point in his career came in 1989 when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Sal the pizza parlor owner in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. He would lose out to Denzel Washington in Glory.

Danny Aiello was working right up until his death. He has a film called One Moment listed as being in post-production that will apparently be his last role. He's listed in the cast of a pair of upcoming mobster films, The Black Caesar and The Italy Boys, which are both listed as being in pre-production. Certainly, Aiello's illness and death were unexpected if he was planning to continue working in the near future.

As always, it's sad to lose a great actor like this. There are potentially great performances that we'll never get to see. The only positive is that we'll always have the great ones Danny Aiello made to look back on. Do the Right Thing is still there for us to lwatch whenever we want, and it's still great. Danny Aiello is certainly part of the reason for that. Death is terrible, but we can always celebrate life. As Josh Gad did on social media this morning.

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Which is your favorite Danny Aiello performance? Let us know in the comments below.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.