Danny Aiello

Danny Aiello

Born: June 20, 1933
Age: 90
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.
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Daniel Louis "Danny" Aiello, Jr. (/aɪˈɛloʊ/; born June 20, 1933) is an Italian-American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures, including The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Front (1976), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Moonstruck (1987), Hudson Hawk (1991), Ruby (1992), Léon: The Professional (1994), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), Dinner Rush (2000) and Lucky Number Slevin (2006). He had a pivotal role in the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing (1989) as Salvatore "Sal" Frangione, earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Aiello also played Don Domenico Clericuzio in a miniseries, Mario Puzo's The Last Don (1997).


Early life

Aiello, the fifth of six children, was born on West 68th Street, Manhattan, the son of Italian American parents Frances (née Pietrocova), a seamstress, and Daniel Louis Aiello, Sr., a laborer. Aiello's father deserted the family even though his wife had gone blind. For many years, Aiello had publicly condemned his father's desertion of his children and his blind wife. Aiello reconciled with his father in 1993, but to this day harbors a resentment of his father's conduct. He moved to the South Bronx when he was seven, and later attended James Monroe High School. At the age of 16, Aiello lied about his age in order to enlist in the U.S. Army. After serving for three years, he returned to New York City and did various jobs in order to support himself and later his family. Aiello also once served as a union representative for Greyhound Bus workers and was a night club bouncer at the legendary New York comedy club, The Improv.


Film and television

Aiello broke into films in the early 1970s. One of his earliest roles came as a ballplayer in the 1973 baseball drama, Bang the Drum Slowly, with Robert De Niro. Aiello had a walk-on role as small-time hood Tony Rosato in The Godfather Part II (1974), ad-libbing the famous line "Michael Corleone says hello!" during a hit on a rival gangster Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo).

In 1980, Aiello had a co-lead role with Jan Michael Vincent in Defiance, about some Manhattan residents who fight back against the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood. The next year, he received considerable acclaim for playing a racist New York City cop in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) with Paul Newman.

In 1981, Danny Aiello won a Daytime Emmy award for his appearance in an ABC Afterschool Special called A Family of Strangers.

He was paired with De Niro again for the Sergio Leone gangster epic, Once Upon a Time in America (1984), as a police chief whose name was also "Aiello." His many film appearances included three for director Woody Allen, who cast him in Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), and Radio Days (1987).

Although his characters have often been vulgar and violent, Aiello has also portrayed sensitive, kindly men with an earthy sense of humor. He gained recognition as the befuddled fiance of Cher opposite her Oscar-winning performance in the romantic comedy Moonstruck (1987), and the actor made a comic appearance in drag for the Robert Altman fashion-industry film Prêt-à-Porter (1994). He also had sympathetic roles in the 1990 horror thriller Jacob's Ladder and the 1991 comedy-drama 29th Street. In the The Professional (1994), Aiello had an important role as a nefarious cafe owner who assigns jobs to a hitman, played by Jean Reno.

He played nightclub owner and Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby in the 1992 biopic Ruby and a political bigshot with mob ties in City Hall (1996), starring Al Pacino.

Aiello starred in the independent feature film Dolly Baby (2012), written and directed by Kevin Jordan; Aiello also starred in Jordan's Brooklyn Lobster, which premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in 2005.


Aiello's singing has been on display in films such as Hudson Hawk (1991), Once Around (1991), and Remedy that starred his son Ricky Aiello and Jonathan Doscher. He has released several albums featuring a big-band sound, including I Just Wanted to Hear The Words (2004), Live from Atlantic City (2008), and My Christmas Song for You (2010). Aiello and EMI songwriter Hasan Johnson released an album of standards fused with rap entitled Bridges in 2011.

He played the title character for the video of Madonna's song, "Papa Don't Preach" (1986), and recorded his own answer song, "Papa Wants the Best for You", written by Artie Schroeck.


Aiello's Broadway theatre credits include Gemini, The Floating Light Bulb, Hurlyburly, and The House of Blue Leaves. He also was in the 1976 Broadway play Wheelbarrow Closers, directed by Paul Sorvino.

In July, 2011, opened Off Broadway in the two-act drama The Shoemaker, written by Susan Charlotte and directed by Antony Marsellis. The play is a stage version of his 2006 movie A Broken Sole, which began life in 2001 as a one-act play.

Personal life

Aiello lived in Ramsey, New Jersey, for many years. He later moved to Saddle River, New Jersey. He is the father of stuntman and actor Danny Aiello III, who died May 1, 2010 of pancreatic cancer, Rick Aiello., Jaime Aiello, and daughter Stacey Aiello. Grandfather to Dawn and Allison Aiello, Brielle Aiello, Ricky Aiello, Tori Aiello, Sydney and Gabrielle Fingerhut, Zac Aiello, Jake Aiello, and William Daniel Poppe.

In 2014, Aiello published his autobiography, I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies via Simon & Schuster.

His nephew is Michael Kay, announcer for the New York Yankees.


  • Reach Me, 2014, Father Paul
  • Dolly Baby, 2013, Tony Lanza
  • Stiffs, 2010, Frank Tramontana
  • Harry: A Communication Breakdown, 2009, Narrator
  • A Broken Sole, 2006, The Shoemaker
  • Lucky Number Slevin, 2006, Roth
  • The Last Request, 2006, Pop
  • Brooklyn Lobster, 2005, Frank Giorgio
  • The Fool, 2005, Voice of the Dummy
  • Zeyda and the Hitman, 2004, Nathan
  • Mail Order Bride (de), 2003, Tony Santini
  • Off Key, 2001, Fabrizio Bernini
  • Dinner Rush, 2000, Louis Cropa
  • Mambo Café, 2000, Joey
  • Prince of Central Park, 2000, Noah Cairn
  • 18 Shades of Dust, 1999, Vincent Dianni
  • Wilbur Falls, 1998, Phillip Devereaux
  • A Brooklyn State of Mind, 1997, Danny Parente
  • Bring Me the Head of Mavis Davis, 1997, Mr. Rathbone
  • The Last Don, 1997, Don Domenico Clericuzio
  • Unforgotten: Twenty-Five Years After Willowbrook, Host
  • Dellaventura, 1997-1998, Anthony Dellaventura, 14 episodes
  • 2 Days in the Valley, 1996, Dosmo Pizzo
  • City Hall, 1996, Frank Anselmo
  • Mojave Moon, 1996, Al
  • Lieberman in Love, 1995, Joe Lieberman
  • Power of Attorney, 1995, Joseph Scassi
  • Two Much, 1995, Gene
  • Léon: The Professional, 1994, Tony
  • Prêt-à-Porter, 1994, Major Hamilton
  • Save the Rabbits, 1994, Ronnie
  • Me and the Kid, 1993, Harry
  • The Cemetery Club, 1993, Ben Katz
  • The Pickle, 1993, Harry Stone
  • Mistress, 1992, Carmine Rasso
  • Ruby, 1992, Jack Ruby
  • The Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980, 1992, Tony Rosato
  • 29th Street, 1991, Frank Pesce, Sr.
  • Hudson Hawk, 1991, Tommy Five-Tone
  • Once Around, 1991, Joe Bella
  • The Closer, 1990, Chester Grant
  • He Ain't Heavy, 1990
  • Jacob's Ladder, 1990, Louis
  • Madonna: The Immaculate Collection, 1990, Papa (segment "Papa Don't Preach")
  • Do the Right Thing, 1989, Sal
  • Harlem Nights, 1989, Phil Cantone
  • The January Man, 1989, Captain Vincent Alcoa
  • Shocktroop, 1989, John Cunningham
  • White Hot, 1989, Charlie Buick
  • Russicum - I giorni del diavolo, 1988, George Sherman
  • Moonstruck, 1987, Mr. Johnny Cammareri
  • The Pick-up Artist, 1987, Phil Harper
  • Man on Fire, 1987, Conti
  • Radio Days, 1987, Rocco
  • Key Exchange, 1985, Carabello
  • The Protector, 1985, Danny Garoni
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo, 1985, Monk
  • The Stuff, 1985, Vickers
  • Broadway Danny Rose, 1984, uncredited
  • Deathmask, 1984, Capt. Mike Grasso
  • Old Enough, 1984, Mr. Bruckner
  • Once Upon a Time in America, 1984, Police Chief Vincent Aiello
  • Chu Chu and the Philly Flash, 1981, Johnson
  • Fort Apache the Bronx, 1981, Morgan
  • Defiance, 1980, Carmine
  • Hide in Plain Sight, 1980, Sal Carvello
  • Bloodbrothers, 1978, Artie
  • Fingers, 1978, Butch
  • Hooch, 1977
  • The Front, 1976, Danny LaGattuta
  • The Godfather: Part II, 1974, Tony Rosato
  • Bang the Drum Slowly, 1973, Horse
  • The Godmothers, 1973, uncredited


Year Title Award Result
1981 ABC Afterschool Special Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming
1989 Do The Right Thing Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
BSFC Award for Best Supporting Actor Won
CFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor
LAFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991 Once Around CFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor Nominated
1994 Prêt-à-Porter National Board of Review Award for Best Cast Won

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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