Skilled at the drums, piano and trumpet, Frank Vincent originally aspired to a career in music, but turned to acting in 1976, when he co-starred in the low-budget gangster movie The Death Collector along with Joe Pesci, where they were spotted by Robert De Niro. De Niro told Martin Scorsese about both Vincent and Pesci; Scorsese was impressed by their performances and hired Vincent to appear in a supporting role in Raging Bull, in which he once again appeared with Pesci and co-starred with De Niro. Vincent had small roles in two Spike Lee films in 1989 and 1991 respectively: Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. One of his notable appearances in foreign film was in Juan José Jusid’s Made in Argentina, in which he played Vito, a wealthy Manhattan businessman who befriends the substance abuse counselor who treated his son. Frank Vincent was often cast as a gangster. He appeared in Scorsese’s 1990 film Goodfellas, where he played Billy Batts, a made man in the Gambino crime family. He also played a role in Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino as Frank Marino (based on real-life gangster Frank Cullotta), the sidekick of Pesci’s character. In 1996, Vincent appeared in the music video for rap artist Nas’ song “Street Dreams” in character as Frankie Marino from Casino. In the television movie Gotti, Vincent played Robert “D.B.” DiBernardo, an associate of Mafia boss John Gotti, whose life the film chronicled. In the HBO TV series The Sopranos, he had his most prominent role, as Phil Leotardo, a ruthless New York City gangster who, as boss of the show’s fictional Lupertazzi crime family, becomes the show’s chief antagonist in the final season.
Frank Vincent also had a leading role in the heist movie This Thing of Ours in 2003, where he had a brief association with alleged Genovese crime family capo Danny Provenzano (grandnephew of Anthony Provenzano) and Colombo crime family underboss Sonny Franzese, who is arguably the oldest American Mafia member and is alleged to have murdered around 50 people; he is pictured with them alongside other former Sopranos actors. In 2003, Vincent testified in court on behalf of Provenzano at a repeal sentencing; Provenzano was serving a 10 year sentence for racketeering and other charges. One of his more light-hearted roles was in a British television commercial for Peugeot cars. In early 2005, Vincent appeared on Irish television in a series of television commercials for Irish bank Permanent TSB. In 1999, he won the Italian American Entertainer of the Year Award. Another noted performance is his appearance in the 2003 film Remedy. In 2001, Frank Vincent voiced the character of Mafia boss Salvatore Leone in the computer and video game Grand Theft Auto III. He later reprised that role in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005). In 2006, he released a book, A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man to positive reviews. His idol was Dean Martin. He has also released a line of hand-rolled cigars which have his picture prominently displayed on the band. In the summer of 2008, he played Lieutenant Marino in the independent film The Tested, directed by Russell Costanzo. In 2009, he made a cameo appearance alongside fellow Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa in the Stargate Atlantis episode “Vegas”.
Frank Vincent starred in Chicago Overcoat in 2009 as the main protagonist. In 2013, he starred in the hit IDW Publishing comic series Killogy created by Life of Agony’s Alan Robert as the character Sally Sno Cones alongside Marky Ramone of The Ramones. The series was nominated at the Ghastly Awards for Best Mini-Series and won multiple Horror Comic Awards from the Horror News Network. In 2014, the comics were adapted into a 3D animation for the Killogy animated series in which the cast of the original comic series contributed their voices. A resident of Nutley, New Jersey, Vincent used his drumming skills in an impromptu performance at a township holiday concert. In early September 2017, Vincent suffered a heart attack. He underwent open heart surgery in New Jersey on September 13, during which he died. He was 80 years old. Director John Gallagher, who worked with Vincent on Street Hunter and The Deli, noted that he lied about his age to avoid discrimination, with many sources listing his birth year as 1939. Frank Vincent’s remains were cremated at a funeral home in Montclair, New Jersey with a funeral service held on September 16.
- April, 15, 1937
- North Adams, Massachusetts
- September, 13, 2017
- Nutley, New Jersey
Cause of Death
- heart attack