Danny Aiello has died at the age of 86.
The actor, best known for his role as Sal in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, died on Thursday, his literary agent Jennifer De Chiara confirmed to The Independent.
“Danny overcame tremendous odds to become one of our greatest actors,” De Chiara said.
“He also was a wonderful human being. The world loved Danny, and he loved them right back. He will be missed.”
William Baldwin paid tribute to the actor after the news of his death broke on Friday, tweeting: “From the Army to Greyhound labor rep to bouncer at The Improv to Hollywood stardom!! From Johnny in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing. That smile, that laugh, that NY attitude. They don’t make ‘em like Danny anymore. What a talent… a true one of a kind.”
Born in New York City to Italian parents on 20 June, 1933, Aiello served in the Army for three years before landing several factory jobs and becoming a union president.
In 1970, he became a bouncer at Improvisation, a New York comedy club, where he was asked to act as an assistant emcee.
“It was no big deal; it was just ‘Danny, go up and announce the acts,’” he said in 1997 according to AP. “There was a little bantering between acts, and I kept that short. I was terrified.”
Despite those fears, Aiello began his acting career in the Seventies with small roles in films such as The Godfather, Part II.
He scored additional credits in the Eighties, including one in Once Upon a Time in America and his breakout role as Johnny Cammareri, Cher’s fiance, in Moonstruck.
His turn as Sal in Do The Right Thing earned him an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category in 1990.
Aiello and his wife lived in New Jersey. He is survived by three children. One of his sons, Danny Aiello III, died in May 2010 of pancreatic cancer.
Additional reporting by agencies