Danny Aiello, best known for his Oscar-nominated role of the owner of the Sal pizzeria in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the right thing, died at the age of 86. The actor died in a New Jersey hospital on Thursday night where he was being treated for an infection caused by an injection.
According to Page six, the actor died just after his family had left the hospital after a visit.
Danny Aiello, known for his Oscar-nominated performance on Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," died at age 86. In this 2016 interview, he reflects on his life and his iconic film roles. https://t.co/BrNl5zuHGp
– PBS (@PBS) December 13, 2019
Aiello had a long and successful career in film and television with more than 100 credits that began in the early 1970s. His first notable role was in the 1973 film. Hit the drum slowly with Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty. And, in 1974, he played the role of Tony Rosato in The Godfather: Part II and pronounced the famous line, "Michael Corleone says hello!"
In a 2014 interview with Charlie Rose, Aiello revealed that the line was not in the script.
"I have no idea why I said what I said," said Aiello. "I thought I was in trouble with the director."
Other acting credits in Aiello's career included the role of Johnny Cammareri in Lunatic, whom he called "a coward." Aiello said that people were surprised when they met him after playing that role because in real life he was an imposing guy who measured six feet and three pounds and weighed more than 200 pounds.
Born in Manhattan, Aiello was married to his wife Sandy Cohen for 64 years, and the couple had four children, including specialist and actor Danny Aiello III, who died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer. Aiello's surviving children are Rick, Jaime and Stacey.
In 2014, he published his memoirs. I only know who I am when I am someone else: my life on the street, on stage and in the movies. And he said that no matter what type of character he played, he always tried to add some humanity to the role.
RIP to a guy whose photo is on the wall of each pizzeria that is worth eating at https://t.co/JmeQoFdWUw
– Tim Dillon (@TimJDillon) December 13, 2019
"I try to inject a pinch of vulnerability, so even if people say," I hate this bastard, "something escapes and they can see a human being," said Aiello.
Numerous actors have paid tribute to Aiello on social networks, including their Do the right thing co-star Michael Rappaport, who wrote that Aiello was a "great inspiration,quot; for him personally.
Billy Baldwin, who starred alongside Aiello in the 1989 television movie The murder of Preppiewrote: “RIP #DannyAiello. From the army to the Greyhound labor representative, the goalkeeper in The Improv and Hollywood stardom !! From Johnny in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing. That smile, that laugh, that New York attitude. They don't make them like Danny anymore. What a talent … a true of its kind.