Tony Sirico, Who Played a Gangster on ‘The Sopranos,’ Dies at 79

Tony Sirico, the actor who played the eccentric gangster Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos,” died Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 79.

His death was confirmed by Bob McGowan, his manager. No cause was given.

Sirico's "Sopranos" co-star Michael Imperioli also shared the news on Instagram, saying Sirico died on Friday.

At the time of his audition, he recalled in one interview, he was 55 and sleeping on his mother's couch.

 He'd auditioned for a different character, but creator David Chase approached him with a different role, that turned out to be iconic in its own right.

"We found a groove as Christopher and Paulie and I am proud to say I did a lot of my best and most fun work with my dear pal Tony," Imperioli added. 

 "I will miss him forever. He is truly irreplaceable. I send love to his family, friends and his many many fans.

 He was beloved and will never be forgotten. Heartbroken today."

Michael Gandolfini, son of late "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, also paid tribute to Sirico on Instagram.

he wrote "Tony Sirico was one of the kindest, fiercely loyal, and heartfelt men that I've ever known,"

I'll deeply miss his pinches on my cheek, and his infectious laugh. He was a phenomenal actor and an even better man."

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