'Sopranos' actor Frank Vincent, dead at 80, leaves behind strong legacy

Sopranos' actor Frank Vincent dead

Frank Vincent, whose portrayal of NY mob boss Phil Leotardo made him a mainstay on HBO's The Sopranos, has died.

The reference was to Phil Leotardo, Tony Soprano's ruthless antagonist at the end of the wildly popular series starring James Gandolfini, who died in 2013.

Martin Scorsese has spoken out about the death of actor and frequent collaborator Frank Vincent. He was a natural who was at ease in front of the camera - on a set or on a stage. He died on Wednesday at the age of 78 of complications from heart surgery following a heart attack.

"I will always marvel at his artistry, and consider myself lucky to have had the chance to work with him and to know him", he said.

According to IMDb, Vincent was slated to play roles in five upcoming projects-among them were "The Italy Boys", now in pre-production and expected to star Tom Sizemore and Danny Aiello, and "Asbury Park", also in pre-production and expected to feature Vincent's former frequent cast-mate and close friend Joe Pesci.

Vincent also appeared in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever, as well as The Pope Of Greenwich Village, Wise Guys, and Shark Tale. "He was genuine", Scorsese said in a statement. He returned to play a mafia boss when he gave his voice to the character of Mafia boss Salvatore Leone in the computer and video game Grand Theft Auto III.

Vincent started as a musician, playing drums for such acts as Paul Anka and Del Shannon. Together, they brought a sense of unpredictably violent reality to Scorsese's films featuring Robert De Niro, including in 1995's Casino.

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