Frank Pellegrino Dies; Veteran Actor Was 72

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Frank Pellegrino, a long-time actor best known for his role on The Sopranos, died on Tuesday after a long battle with lung cancer.

He was 72 years old.

Frank Pellegrino

The actor was likely best known for portraying FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso on the beloved HBO series from 1999 until 2004.

He also starred in 1990's Goodfellas as Johnny Dio, while also appearing on Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 2002.

But Pellegrino was much more than an actor. 

Outside of Hollywood, he was respected as a very successful restaurateur.

Pellegrino co-owned Rao’s, an Italian eatery that was first established in 1896 by Pellegrino’s great-uncle Charles Rao.

It was located in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood and it was a frequent hot spot for such celebrities as Woody Allen, Tony Bennett and Michael Douglas.

Rao’s, which has sister locations in Las Vegas and Hollywood, has been featured in movies and TV shows over the years, as well.

You may recognize it, for example, from scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street, Law & Order, Bravo’s Top Chef and even Jay Z’s “D.O.A.” music video.

frank pic

The restaurant will be closed for a week due to Pellegrino's passing, according to an Us Weekly source.

Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino, a close family friends, took to Facebook on Tuesday night to pay tribute to Pellegrino.

He wrote the following:

“To say Frank was a NY legend is an understatement — he bled this city and its egalitarian promise. People love to talk how no one can get a table at Rao's. Well, that’s true but it misses the point.

The tables were given out to old time customers when the place became hot some years ago. New entrants needed to wait their turn to ‘own’ a table, and it didn’t matter who they were.

"[Business mogul] Warren Buffett was one of those who wanted a table and faced Frankie's famous ‘no.’”

Here is a look at Pellegrino on The Sopranos from way back in the day:

Frank Pellegrino on The Sopranos

Concluded Gasparino:

You see, Frankie loved to sing to his patrons and that night [he denied Buffett], as he was belting out The Temptations’ classic ‘My Girl,’ he turned to Buffett and sang: ‘I don't need no money, fortune or fame…I've got all the riches, baby, one man can claim.'

"He did of course: His family, friends, his restaurant and his acting. Frank, I’m going to miss you screaming at me that is until we meet on the other side. RIP my friend."

What a great tribute.

Pellegrino is survived by his son Frank Pellegrino, Jr.

Funeral and memorial services have yet to be announced.

We send our condolences to the friends, family members and loved ones of Frank Pellegrino.

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