Frank Vincent Gattuso Jr. (April 15, 1937 – September 13, 2017), known professionally as Frank Vincent, was an American actor. He played prominent roles in the HBO series The Sopranos and in several films for director Martin Scorsese: Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), and Casino (1995).
Vincent, who was of Italian descent (ancestors from Sicily and Naples), was born in North Adams, Massachusetts and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. His father, Frank Vincent Gattuso, Sr., was an iron worker and businessman. He had two brothers, Nick and Jimmy, and a half-sister, Fran.
Skilled at the drums, piano, and trumpet, Vincent originally aspired to a career in music but turned to acting in the 1970s, when he co-starred in the low-budget gangster movie The Death Collector (1976) along with Joe Pesci, where they were spotted by Robert De Niro. De Niro told Martin Scorsese about both Vincent and Pesci; Scorsese was impressed by their performances and hired Vincent to appear in a supporting role in Raging Bull (1980), in which he once again appeared with Pesci and co-starred with De Niro. Vincent soon thereafter appeared in small roles in two Spike Lee films: Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991).
One of his notable appearances in foreign film was in Juan José Jusid’s Made in Argentina, in which he played Vito, a wealthy Manhattan businessman who befriends the substance abuse counselor who treated his son.
Vincent was often cast as a gangster. For example, in Scorsese’s film Goodfellas (1990), he played Billy Batts, a made man in the Gambino crime family; he also played a role in Scorsese’s film Casino (1995) as Frank Marino (based on real-life gangster Frank Cullotta), the sidekick of Pesci’s character.
In 1996, Vincent appeared in the music video for rap artist Nas’ song “Street Dreams”. He portrayed Frank Cullotta as character Frankie Marino from Casino, alongside Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro. In the television movie Gotti (1996), Vincent played Robert “D.B.” DiBernardo, an associate of Mafia boss John Gotti’s, whose life the film chronicled. In the HBO TV series The Sopranos, he had his most prominent role, as Phil Leotardo, a ruthless New York City gangster who, as boss of the show’s fictional Lupertazzi crime family, becomes the show’s chief antagonist in the final season.
Vincent also had a leading role in the heist movie This Thing of Ours (2003), wherein he had a brief association with alleged Genovese crime family capo Danny Provenzano (grandnephew of Anthony Provenzano) and Colombo crime family underboss Sonny Franzese, who is arguably the oldest American Mafia member and is alleged to have murdered around 50 people; Vincent is pictured with them alongside former Sopranos actors including Vincent Pastore. In 2003, Vincent testified in court twice on behalf of Provenzano at repeal sentences; Provenzano was serving a 10-year sentence for racketeering and other charges.
One of Vincent’s lighter-hearted roles was in a British television commercial for Peugeot cars. In early 2005, he appeared on Irish television in a series of television commercials for Irish bank Permanent TSB.
In 1999, he won the Italian American Entertainer of the Year Award. Another noted performance is his appearance in the film Remedy (2003).
In video games, Vincent voiced the character of Mafia boss Salvatore Leone in the computer and video game Grand Theft Auto III (2001). He later reprised that role in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005).
In 2006, he released a book, A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man to positive reviews. His idol was Dean Martin. He has also released a line of hand-rolled cigars which have his picture prominently displayed on the band.
He played Lieutenant Marino in the independent film The Tested (2008), directed by Russell Costanzo. The following year, he made a cameo appearance alongside fellow Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa in the Stargate Atlantis episode “Vegas” (2009). The year following that, he starred in Chicago Overcoat (2009) as the main protagonist.
In 2013, he starred in the hit IDW Publishing comic series Killogy created by Life of Agony’s Alan Robert as the character Sally Sno Cones alongside Marky Ramone of The Ramones. The series was nominated at the Ghastly Awards for Best Mini-Series and won multiple Horror Comic Awards from the Horror News Network. In 2014, the comics were adapted into a 3D animation for the Killogy animated series, in which the cast of the original comic series contributed their voices.
A resident of Nutley, New Jersey, Vincent used his drumming skills in an impromptu performance at a township holiday concert.
Death and legacy
In early September 2017, Vincent suffered a heart attack. He underwent open heart surgery in New Jersey on September 13; however, he died shortly thereafter. Vincent was 80 years old. Director John Gallagher, who worked with Vincent on Street Hunter and The Deli, noted that the actor lied about his age to avoid discrimination, and therefore many sources listed his birth year as 1939.
“Mr. Vincent was less a household name than a household face, instantly recognizable for his many gangster roles. He once told the Washington Post that he was on location for a film shoot in Rhode Island when a 12-year old boy asked for his autograph.
‘You know who I am?’, Mr. Vincent asked.
He wasn’t prepared when the boy answered, ‘You’re a made man.'”
Vincent’s remains were cremated at a funeral home in Montclair, New Jersey. A funeral service was held on September 16.
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