The Sopranos star Tony Lip dies aged 82

The star, who was best known for his portrayal of mob kingpin Carmine Lupertazzi in hit TV show The Sopranos, passed away in hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey on Friday (04Jan12).

The exact cause of his death is unknown but family members told local newspaper The Record of Woodland Park that Lip’s health had been failing in recent years.

Born Frank Anthony Vallelonga, Lip played minor league baseball in North Carolina with the St. Louis Browns organisation, then served in the American Army from 1951 to 1953 in Germany.

During the 1960s, he worked as general manager of the famed Copacabana nightclub in Manhattan, New York City where he met The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola and casting director Louis DiGiaimo, who gave him a minor role in the movie as a wedding guest.

Lip went on to star in successful films Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Donnie Brasco.

In 2005, he co-wrote and released a cookbook titled Shut Up And Eat!, in which he and Italian-American actors James Gandolfini, Danny Aiello and Chazz Palminteri shared their families’ favourite Italian recipes.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday (08Jan13) in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.