Rest in peace, Frank Pellegrino.
The Sopranos star sadly died at age 72 on Tuesday, Jan. 31 after battling lung cancer. Though Frank is most known for his acting roles, he was also a successful restaurateur. He co-owned the popular Italian eatery, Rao’s, in NYC.
“We lost a part of New York today when we lost Frankie. There’s nobody like him, he’s an icon,” the late star’s close friend Bo Dietl told Page Six. Dietl confirmed Frank passed away just before 2 p.m. at NYC’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on Tuesday surrounded by his family.
Frank with the late James Gandolfini in The Sopranos.
“Rao’s may be over 100 years old, but the person who made Rao’s what it is, was Frankie. It is a place that is so unique because of him and it not going to be the same without him,” Dietl continued. “He was big-hearted and generous and always took care of people. What a shining star and a big personality, I will miss singing along with him every Thursday night.”
Frank was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. “He never complained once, he was always upbeat. I am going to miss my best friend, he was one of the bravest guys I ever met,” Dietl said.
In addition to playing FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso on HBO’s The Sopranos from 1999 until 2004, Frank is also known for starring as Johnny Dio in Martin Scorsese‘s 1990 crime drama Goodfellas and for appearing on several episodes of Law & Order.
Frank with Fran Drescher at Rao’s in NYC.
His famous restaurant, Rao’s — the eatery was first established in 1896 by Frank’s great-uncle Charles Rao — has been featured in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street and on TV shows Law & Order and Top Chef.
Rao’s also boasts an impressive list of famous clientele including Leonardo DiCaprio, Woody Allen, Tony Bennett, and Michael Douglas, among others.
Frank’s Manhattan restaurant will now reportedly be closed for a week in the wake of his passing. Our thoughts are with Frank’s family and friends during this difficult time.
Click through the gallery below to see The Sopranos cast then and now.
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