Saturday, December 14, 2019

Danny Aiello of 'Do The Right Thing' and 'Moonstruck' Dies at 86

"It is with deep sadness that Danny Aiello, husband, father, grandfather, actor and beloved musician died last night after a brief illness," said a family release to CNN. "The family requests confidentiality at this time. Service arrangements will be announced at a later date."

He was 86 years old.

The veteran actor has appeared in a plethora of well-known roles, including as Johnny Cammareri in "Moonstruck", Tony Rosato in "The Godfather II" and as father of Madonna in the clip "Daddy Don't Preach" .

Aiello was born in Manhattan, the second youngest of six children, a seamstress and a worker. Her mother was born in Naples, Italy, and married her father when she was 15 years old.

In a 1990 New York Times Magazine article, Aiello spoke of his father's frequent absence from home.

Aiello used his imagination to cope.

""I was telling people that he was a detective chasing prisoners in Cleveland, Ohio,

The actor wrote that he was a child and that he visited his father in prison in his memoirs of 2014, "I only know who I am when I am someone else: my life in the street, on stage and at the cinema ".

Aiello told radio host Diane Rehm in 2014 that her mother never held her father badly.
"He never came home. He came home maybe one day a year, twice a year and so we really didn't know my father very much, but she never said it badly," said Aiello. "And for this reason, I think our love has continued to grow for a long time."

Aiello left school after eighth grade, did odd jobs and ran with a gang of boys who called themselves "the Kingsmen".

"I think I have stolen bowling 20 times," he told the New York Times. 

At 16, he lied about his age to join the military and was sent to Germany to serve before being honorably released three years later.

Aiello returned to New York, married Sandy Cohen in 1955 and settled into family life, with children and a job at a Greyhound bus terminal in Manhattan where he quickly gained a reputation for being quite made the character, according to the newspaper.

The family struggled when Aiello was released from this job after a decade.

He said he had stolen a few places to help feed his family and that he had also been offered a concert as a bouncer at the improvisation comedy club, where he began to hone his skills as a performer - sometimes acting as emcee or straight man in skits, the newspaper reported.

Soon, he auditioned and won roles on big and small screens,

Aiello never studied theater and said he used his real-life experiences, including modeling the character of Cammareri, the nervous mom's boy - whom he played opposite Cher - on her brother-in-law, Johnny Palumbo,

Aiello appeared in over 100 roles, but it was his performance as the owner of the Sal pizzeria in a predominantly black neighborhood in the 1989 critically acclaimed Lee film "Do the Right Thing" that resonated with viewers and earned him an Oscar nomination.


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