Daniel Louis Aiello Jr., popularly known as Danny Aiello, is an American actor and musician. He has appeared in several films including ‘The Godfather: Part II’, ‘Once Upon a Time in America’, ‘The Front’, ‘Hudson Hawk’, ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’, ‘Léon: The Professional’, ‘Lucky Number Slevin’, ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘2 Days in the Valley’, to name a few. He has also worked on television, with his most notable role being in the miniseries ‘The Last Don’. He has contributed to the theater as well. His stage credits include ‘Gemini’, ‘Hurlyburly’, ‘The Floating Light Bulb’ and ‘The House of Blue Leaves’. As a musician, he has released numerous albums featuring a big-band sound, such as ‘I Just Wanted to Hear the Words,’ ‘My Christmas Song for You’ and ‘Live from Atlantic City.’ On a personal note, the veteran actor is a father of four, including the late actor/ stuntman Danny Aiello III.
Career in Films & Television
Daniel Louis Aiello Jr. began starring in movies in the early 1970s. He appeared in the 1974 flick ‘The Godfather Part II’. In 1980, he had a co-lead role in the movie ‘Defiance’. The following year, he appeared as a racist New York City cop in the film ‘Fort Apache, The Bronx’. The actor was then cast as a police chief in the flick ‘Once Upon a Time in America’.
Between 1985 and 1987, he did a number of big screen projects including ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’, ‘Radio Days’ and ‘Moonstruck’. After this, he had a significant role in the film ‘Do the Right Thing’. In 1990, he had a sympathetic role in the horror movie ‘Jacob's Ladder’. Four years later, he made a comic appearance in drag for the fashion industry flick ‘Prêt-à-Porter’. The actor also played Don Domenico Clericuzio in the miniseries ‘The Last Don’.
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As a singer, Danny Aiello has contributed to the soundtracks of the movies ‘Hudson Hawk,’ ‘Remedy’ and ‘Once Around.’ He has also released numerous albums including ‘I Just Wanted to Hear the Words,’ ‘My Christmas Song for You’ and ‘Live from Atlantic City.’ In 1986, he also played the title character in Madonna's video song titled ‘Papa Don't Preach’.
In addition to his film, television, and music career, Danny Aiello has contributed to the theater in plays like ‘Gemini’, ‘The House of Blue Leaves’, ‘Hurlyburly’ and ‘The Floating Light Bulb’. He has also acted in the 1976 Broadway production of ‘Wheelbarrow Closers’. In 2011, he starred as a shoemaker in the play ‘The Shoemaker’, directed by Antony Marsellis.
Danny Aiello was born on June 20, 1933 in Manhattan, New York, USA, to parents Daniel Louis Aiello, Sr. and Frances. He had five siblings. He studied at James Monroe High School.
The actor married Sandy Cohen in 1955. The couple had four children: Jamie, Rick, Stacey, and stuntman/actor Danny Aiello III who died in 2010 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.
In 2014, Danny Aiello published his autobiography titled ‘I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies’.