Star of HBO ‘Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas’ is dead at 78

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Best known for his role on “The Sopranos” as mafia tough guy Phil Leotardo, Italian actor Frank Vincent died Wednesday during open heart surgery.  He was 78.

The Massachusetts-born actor made a name for himself playing notoriously tough characters, like Billy Batts in “Goodfellas” and Frank Marino in “Casino.”

But his most famous role came as Leotardo, the nemesis of Tony Soprano on HBO’s hit crime drama. Vincent portrayed the ruthless Leotardo for 31 episodes, starting in Season 5 and wrapping up with the show’s 2007 finale.

Vincent said in 2009 that he understood that with his Italian-American heritage came the tendency for stereotypes, which were reinforced with his role as a mobster on “The Sopranos.”

Vincent died in a New Jersey hospital during surgery after suffering a heart attack last week.

Here is a clip from one of his movie appearances:

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