Frank Vallelonga Jr., an actor who was in “The Sopranos” and “Green Book,” which won the 2019 Best Picture award, was found dead outside a sheet metal factory in the Bronx, New York, on Monday, according to a statement from the New York Police Department. He was 60.
“When police arrived, they saw an unidentified adult man on the ground who was unconscious and not responding,” police told HuffPost. “There were no clear signs of trauma on the man. When EMS got there, they told the man’s family that he was dead on the spot.
According to the Los Angeles Times, police haven’t figured out what caused the death, but they have arrested and charged 35-year-old Bronx resident Steven Smith with hiding a human body. Smith, who drove the actor, said that Vallelonga had taken too much.
Police say that a car with New Jersey licence plates stopped in front of a factory at 1243 Oak Point in Hunts Point. They say this is based on information from witnesses and surveillance footage. According to the Daily News, someone took Vallelonga’s body out of the passenger seat and put it on the sidewalk. At 3:51 a.m. on Monday, Vallelonga’s body was found.
According to the criminal complaint, Smith told police, “I got the body out by pulling him out of the car on the floor.”
Vallelonga played his real-life uncle Rudy Vallelonga in “Green Book,” which was written by his brother Nick and based on the life of their father, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, an Italian American bouncer who was hired to take a Black pianist on a tour through the Jim Crow South.
People says that Vallelonga Sr. was in classic mob movies and shows like “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” and “Donnie Brasco.” Vallelonga Jr.’s friends in New Jersey, where he owned Tony Lip’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, thought highly of him.
“He was a nice guy. He was a very fun guy,” Lydia Pagano, who lives on Vallelonga’s former block, told the Daily News. “He loved being with people. He would sing all the Frank Sinatras and all the old songs at the restaurant.”
“I loved the guy,” Vincent Pastore, Vallelonga’s “Sopranos” co-star, told the outlet. “The last time I saw Frankie, he came to one of my acting classes in the city about six months ago.”