TV | July 8, 2022 9:24 pm

Tony Sirico, “The Sopranos'” Paulie Walnuts, Dead at 79

His career spanned decades

Tony Sirico
Actor Tony Sirico.
NY Daily News via Getty Images

For some actors, there’s one iconic role that they’ll forever be associated with, even if they’ve played dozens of roles over the course of their career. For Tony Sirico, that role was Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos. In a series that abounded with great parts for character actors, Sirico created a character who could be alternately hilarious and terrifying, depending on the context.

Variety reports that Sirico died on Friday at the age of 79. This brings to an end that included a host of film and television appearances, including a few projects in which he reteamed with some of his Sopranos costars — including a recurring role on Lillyhammer.

Sirico was incarcerated in the early 1970s, where he became interested in pursuing acting. He talked about the experinece in the 1989 documentary The Big Bang. Sirico would go on to act in films like GoodFellas and Cop Land, as well as several movies directed by Woody Allen, beginning with 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway.

Sirico’s distinctive delivery on The Sopranos made for some of the show’s most memorable scenes; he and castmate Michael Imperioli were also at the center of “Pine Barrens,” which is considered one of the best single episodes of television in recent memory. Sirico leaves behind a large family and an array of memorable performances. He had an unexpected path to the screen, but he made the most of it.