Danny Aiello was a storied actor with quite a distinguished career. But in the Hip-Hop Nation, he will always be best remember ed as Sal, proprietor of Sal’s Famous Pizza in Spike Lee’s landmark film Do The Right Thing.
TMZ reports that Aiello died on Thursday (Dec. 12) night. He was 86.
Reportedly, the New York native passed away at a medical facility in New Jersey where he was being treated for a sudden. His death was unexpected as he was dealing with a sudden illness.
Aiello’s first gig was in Robert De Niro’s Bang the Drum Slowly and other notable films in his filmography include The Godfather: Part II, Once Upon a Time in America, Moonstruck and we’re going to go ahead and throw Harlem Nights in there. He also played Madonna’s Papa in her “Papa Don’t Preach” video.
As for Do The Right Thing, the 1989 film earned him Best Supporting Actor nomination from the Academy.
Said Spike Lee on Instagram:
“I’m 💜 Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny,We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE.🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿”
Rest in power Danny Aiello. Peep the reactions to his passing from the likes of Lee, Rosie Perez, Cher and more below.
#SpikeLee just called! Heart’s breaking! Great talent! So kind! He was my 1st friend in the biz on my very 1st film. I was so scared but fronted. He saw right thru my fear, smile & said, “Come sit with me kid. This is your 1st right? You’ll be okay. I got you...”-#RipDannyAiello https://t.co/LwLKnT0TTX— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) December 13, 2019
Danny Aiello was memorable in the Madonna video where he played the Papa who was asked not to preach pic.twitter.com/A15GKqIREG— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) December 13, 2019
“People call me an instinctive actor. I used to consider that an insult early on, only because I had never studied. Now, I love it.”— Tribeca (@Tribeca) December 13, 2019
Rest in peace, Danny Aiello, who brought truth and feeling to his every role. Here he is with Spike Lee during the making of DO THE RIGHT THING. pic.twitter.com/shFkLBIZT5
Rest in Power, Danny Aiello. “Do the Right Thing” was an important film for me and your portrayal of Sal was so real. I’ll never forget your performances in “The Odds” episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” and as the Police Captain in “January Man.” You were the glue in movies. https://t.co/ZZ95b3jkJK— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) December 13, 2019
Goodbye Dear #DannyAiello 💔— Cher (@cher) December 13, 2019
Danny was a Great Actor, But a
Genius Comedic Actor.We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck ..It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time.
I would like to thank all of those sending their condolences on the passing of my uncle, Danny Aiello. He was a terrific man, self made, coming from nothing to be an Academy Award nominated actor. He loved his family dearly, adored his wife of 64 years, my Aunt Sandy.— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) December 13, 2019
You see this fucking place? I built this fucking place with my bare fucking hands. Every light socket, every piece of tile - me, with these fucking hands.— John Maguire (@JMaguireCritic) December 13, 2019
RIP Danny Aiello pic.twitter.com/e3l1EGBRKw
RIP #DannyAiello— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) December 13, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/ssaw9QvAVt
Family statement: “It is with profound sorrow to report that Danny Aiello, beloved husband, father, grandfather, actor and musician passed away last night after a brief illness. The family asks for privacy at this time. Service arrangements will be announced at a later date.” RIP pic.twitter.com/IejzPeAQzJ— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 13, 2019