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January 1, Long-Time Actor Dies at 87: Iconic Roles, Boxing Past, and Personal Struggles Revealed



Tony Lo Bianco, a long-time character actor known for his roles in films like The French Connection, has passed away at the age of 87. His representative confirmed the news, stating that Lo Bianco had been suffering from prostate cancer.

The Brooklyn-born actor was not only a mainstay on the big screen but also featured in the long-running TV series Law & Order and some of its offshoots. His television appearances included Homicide: Life on the Streets, the recent reboot of Walker, Texas Ranger, The Streets of San Francisco, The Twilight Zone, and a long string of TV movies.

“Tony Lo Bianco passed away last night at his horse farm in Maryland after a battle with prostate cancer,” read a statement by the actor’s representative. “His wife, Alyse, was by his side,” the rep added.

Before his acting career, Lo Bianco was a Golden Gloves boxer. However, in 1964, he performed in a Broadway production of Incident at Vichy and was bitten by the acting bug. He made his film debut in 1965’s The Sex Perils of Paulette and appeared on the popular spy spoof TV series, Get Smart, the following year.

Lo Bianco’s breakout role came in 1971 when he played mobster Sal Boca in William Friedkin’s The French Connection, a film that won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The actor recalled his versatility when he took on a Spanish accent for his role in the film The Honeymoon Killers, saying, “They wanted to cast a guy with a Spanish accent. I’m Italian American, but I took on a Spanish accent and landed the role. Everybody thought it was genuine, then they heard my real voice one day on set. They couldn’t believe it.”

The actor’s personal life saw him go through three marriages, with his first wife, Dora Landey, being the mother of his three daughters. He is survived by two of them, Miriamne and Nina, while his third daughter, Anna, passed away from breast cancer in 2006.

Comedian Joe Piscopo mourned the loss of Lo Bianco, writing, “Sad to report that dear, long-time friend #TONYLOBIANCO passed away peacefully last night. Love to his Alyse and the LoBianco Family. Tony was a proud Italian American who loved this country heart and soul. Rest in Peace, mio caro amico.”

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