Sopranos actor Tony Sirico has died at the age of 79, his family said.

Sirico played the role of Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri on the popular HBO show, appearing in all six seasons.

He died on Friday morning, according to a Facebook post from his brother Robert.

Steve Van Zandt, James Gandolfini and Tony Sirico in The Sopranos. Photo: Barry Wetcher / Hbo / Kobal / Shutterstock

The post said: “It is with great sadness, but with incredible pride, love and many fond memories, that the family of Gennaro Anthony ‘Tony’ Sirico wish to inform you of his death on the morning of July 8, 2022.

“The family is deeply grateful for the many expressions of love, prayer and condolence and asks the public to respect their privacy in this time of mourning.”

The co-star of The Sopranos of Sirico, Michael Imperioli, described him as a “dear friend, colleague and accomplice”.

The actor wrote on Instagram: “It pains me to say that my dear friend, colleague and accomplice, the great Tony Sirico, died today.

“Tony was like no other: he was tough, loyal and big-hearted like anyone I’ve ever known.”

Sirico was born in 1942 and grew up in Brooklyn.

In a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone, he said he was attracted to the gangsters he saw in his neighborhood.

He said, “They’re all dressed up, smooth-backed, they’ve got cars, they’ve got girls, very tempting.

“I’ve come close to making a big mistake. I’ve almost come too close to becoming one of those guys I play.”

As an actor, Sirico found himself playing the same men he admired as a young man.

“And do I mind being stereotyped?” Absolutely not, “he told Rolling Stone in the same interview.

“I paid the rent, I take care of myself and my mother.”

Sirico’s manager Bob McGowan told the PA news agency that he “didn’t look anything like his character in the Sopranos.”

“He has been a very loyal customer for 25 years and is a former Army veterinarian and has always given to charity.

“He makes a great contribution to the Wounded Warriors and would always go to children’s hospitals.”

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