Cher fondly reflects on filming Moonstruck with Danny Aiello and joins tributes following his death

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Sad: Veteran actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night following a sudden illness. He was 86; seen in 2016

Sad: Veteran actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night following a sudden illness. He was 86; seen in 2016

Sad: Veteran actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night following a sudden illness. He was 86; seen in 2016

Danny Aiello, a veteran stage and film actor remembered for his roles in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, has died at a New Jersey medical center at age 86. 

Cher, Spike Lee and Charlize Theron were just a few of the celebrities to pay tribute to Aiello online following his death.

The popular character star, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Sal in Do The Right Thing, reportedly died on Thursday night at a medical facility in New Jersey.

‘Danny was a Great Actor, But a Genius Comedic Actor.We Laughed so much. Making #Moonstruck,’ she wrote. ‘It was one of the happiest times in my life,& He Was apart of that Happy time. Goodbye #JohnnyCammareri.’

Director Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing.

‘I’m [heart] Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night,’ he wrote. ‘Danny, We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE.’

Kind words: Cher, Spike Lee and Charlize Theron were just a few of the celebrities to pay tribute to Aiello online following his death

Kind words: Cher, Spike Lee and Charlize Theron were just a few of the celebrities to pay tribute to Aiello online following his death

Kind words: Cher, Spike Lee and Charlize Theron were just a few of the celebrities to pay tribute to Aiello online following his death

Breakthrough role: Aiello played Johnny Cammareri, the hapless lover dumped by Cher in Norman Jewison's 1987 hit comedy

Breakthrough role: Aiello played Johnny Cammareri, the hapless lover dumped by Cher in Norman Jewison's 1987 hit comedy

Breakthrough role: Aiello played Johnny Cammareri, the hapless lover dumped by Cher in Norman Jewison’s 1987 hit comedy

RIP: Director Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

RIP: Director Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

RIP: Director Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

Great start: Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her 'first jobs ever in Hollywood'

Great start: Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her 'first jobs ever in Hollywood'

Great start: Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her ‘first jobs ever in Hollywood’

‘Such sad news to wake up to this morning,’ Charlize Theron wrote. ‘One of my first jobs ever in Hollywood was with Danny Aiello and he was everything you could’ve imagined – funny, gracious, kind, and a true legend of his craft. You will be missed, my friend.’

Mia Farrow wrote: ‘So very sad to hear that Danny Aiello has died. He was a superb actor and a lovely person. It was a joy and an honor to work with him (in Broadway Danny Rose) Condolences and love to his family.’ 

‘Rest in Power, Danny Aiello,’ director Kevin Smith wrote on Twitter. ‘“Do the Right Thing” was an important film for me and your portrayal of Sal was so real. I’ll never forget your performances in “The Odds” episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” and as the Police Captain in “January Man.” You were the glue in movies.’ 

Billy Baldwin posted a heartfelt tribute to ‘a true one of a kind’ talent.

‘From the Army to Greyhound labor rep to bouncer at The Improv to Hollywood stardom!! From Johnny in Moonstruck to Sal in Do The Right Thing,’ Baldwin wrote. ‘That smile, that laugh, that NY attitude. They don’t make ’em like Danny anymore.’ 

Actor and longtime Howard Stern contributor, Michael Rapaport, tweeted that Aiello was a ‘huge inspiration’ for his career.

Mia Farrow wrote: 'So very sad to hear that Danny Aiello has died. He was a superb actor and a lovely person. It was a joy and an honor to work with him (in Broadway Danny Rose) Condolences and love to his family'

Mia Farrow wrote: 'So very sad to hear that Danny Aiello has died. He was a superb actor and a lovely person. It was a joy and an honor to work with him (in Broadway Danny Rose) Condolences and love to his family'

Mia Farrow wrote: ‘So very sad to hear that Danny Aiello has died. He was a superb actor and a lovely person. It was a joy and an honor to work with him (in Broadway Danny Rose) Condolences and love to his family’

'Rest in Power, Danny Aiello,' director Kevin Smith wrote on Twitter. '“Do the Right Thing” was an important film for me and your portrayal of Sal was so real. I’ll never forget your performances in “The Odds” episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” and as the Police Captain in “January Man.” You were the glue in movies.'

'Rest in Power, Danny Aiello,' director Kevin Smith wrote on Twitter. '“Do the Right Thing” was an important film for me and your portrayal of Sal was so real. I’ll never forget your performances in “The Odds” episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” and as the Police Captain in “January Man.” You were the glue in movies.'

‘Rest in Power, Danny Aiello,’ director Kevin Smith wrote on Twitter. ‘“Do the Right Thing” was an important film for me and your portrayal of Sal was so real. I’ll never forget your performances in “The Odds” episode of “Tales from the Dark Side” and as the Police Captain in “January Man.” You were the glue in movies.’

TMZ reported that his family had recently visited him in the treatment center where he was being treated for a ‘sudden illness’ and ‘suffered an infection related to his treatment’, and he died shortly after they had left. 

His publicist, Tracey Miller, confirmed his death and released a statement: ‘The family asks for privacy at this time.’

Danny is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Sandy Cohen, and three children: Rick, Jaime and Stacey. His son, Danny Aiello III died from pancreatic cancer in 2010.

Aiello is best known for his roles in Do The Right Thing, Moonstruck and Hudson Hawk.

‘Danny was my client and a dear friend. He passed away last night. Danny was a rare talent who triumphed over incredible odds to become one of our greatest actors. He will be missed,’ literary agent Jennifer DeChiara said in a statement to NBC News.  

Love: Danny is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Sandy Cohen, and three children: Rick, Jaime and Stacey. His son, Danny Aiello III died from pancreatic cancer in 2010

Love: Danny is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Sandy Cohen, and three children: Rick, Jaime and Stacey. His son, Danny Aiello III died from pancreatic cancer in 2010

Love: Danny is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Sandy Cohen, and three children: Rick, Jaime and Stacey. His son, Danny Aiello III died from pancreatic cancer in 2010

Sandy described her husband as ‘very deep’ and a ‘hard person to figure out’ during an interview with People in 1990.  

‘He was very macho,’ she said. ‘He was the kind of guy most mothers would not want their daughters to be seen with. But he was so cute and so sweet. He still is.’ 

Daniel Louis Aiello Jr. was born June 20, 1933, to Italian parents. His father, a laborer, left the family of seven children, and Daniel started working at the age of nine selling newspapers, working in a grocery store and bowling alley, shining shoes and loading trucks. 

In his teenage years, he joined a street gang and, he claimed, engaged in burglary and safe-cracking. He dropped out of high school before graduating, got married in 1955 and joined the Army. 

One of his earliest roles was working alongside Robert De Niro in the 1973 baseball drama, Bang the Drum Slowly. 

Legend: Aiello is best known for his role in the 1989 film Do The Right Thing (pictured). He earned a host of Best Supporting Actor awards for playing Sal and was also nominated for an Academy Award

Legend: Aiello is best known for his role in the 1989 film Do The Right Thing (pictured). He earned a host of Best Supporting Actor awards for playing Sal and was also nominated for an Academy Award

Legend: Aiello is best known for his role in the 1989 film Do The Right Thing (pictured). He earned a host of Best Supporting Actor awards for playing Sal and was also nominated for an Academy Award

Boss: He played Tony Rosato in Godfather Part II in 1974, and recited the infamous line: 'Michael Corleone says hello!'

Boss: He played Tony Rosato in Godfather Part II in 1974, and recited the infamous line: 'Michael Corleone says hello!'

Boss: He played Tony Rosato in Godfather Part II in 1974, and recited the infamous line: ‘Michael Corleone says hello!’

He played Tony Rosato in Godfather Part II, and recited the infamous line: ‘Michael Corleone says hello!’ 

Recognizable, if not famous, for his burly build and husky voice, he was an ex-union president who broke into acting in his 30s and remained a dependable player for decades, whether vicious or cuddly or some of each. 

‘During the early times in my acting career, I would fight at the drop of a hat,’ he said in 1985. ‘I was very hungry. If there were obstacles, I tried to remove them.’ He added that sometimes he engaged in fistfights with actors after work because of incidents during filming or rehearsals. 

His breakthrough was as the hapless lover dumped by Cher in Norman Jewison’s hit comedy Moonstruck. His disillusion contributed to the laughter, and although he wasn’t nominated for a supporting-role Oscar (Cher and Olympia Dukakis won in their categories), Aiello was inundated with movie offers. 

Sweet start: Danny hugged actress Beatrice Arthur at a party in 1981 following their opening performance in Woody Allen's play, The Floating Lightbulb

Sweet start: Danny hugged actress Beatrice Arthur at a party in 1981 following their opening performance in Woody Allen's play, The Floating Lightbulb

Sweet start: Danny hugged actress Beatrice Arthur at a party in 1981 following their opening performance in Woody Allen’s play, The Floating Lightbulb

Papa Don't Preach: Aiello played Madonna's father in the iconic video for her hit 1986 track

Papa Don't Preach: Aiello played Madonna's father in the iconic video for her hit 1986 track

Papa Don’t Preach: Aiello played Madonna’s father in the iconic video for her hit 1986 track

Partner in crime: He played Tommy 'Five-Tone' Messina alongside Bruce Willis in the action comedy Hudson Hawk in 1997

Partner in crime: He played Tommy 'Five-Tone' Messina alongside Bruce Willis in the action comedy Hudson Hawk in 1997

Partner in crime: He played Tommy ‘Five-Tone’ Messina alongside Bruce Willis in the action comedy Hudson Hawk in 1997

For Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing in 1989, Aiello earned a host of Best Supporting Actor awards and was also nominated for an Academy Award.

‘Living in New York City gave me training for any role,’ he said in a 1997 interview. ‘I’ve seen people killed, knifed. I’ve got scars on my face. I have emotional recall when I work; the idea is simply to recreate it. 

‘I’ve seen it and experienced it. I’ve played gangsters, teachers but most of my work has been in the police area. And for that I’m adored by the police in New York City.’ 

The ebullient Aiello became a favorite of several directors, among them Woody Allen, who used him in the Broadway play The Floating Light Globe and the movies Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Radio Days. 

He portrayed a local pizzeria owner named Sal who had been in the same Brooklyn neighborhood for nearly three decades and experienced the rise of racial tension between neighbors, customers and his own family.     

Powerful: Spike Lee (right) posted a tribute to Aiello on Friday and shared behind-the-scenes photos from Do The Right Thing. Aiello portrayed a local pizzeria owner named Sal who had been in the same Brooklyn neighborhood for nearly three decades and experienced the rise of racial tension between neighbors, customers and his own family

Powerful: Spike Lee (right) posted a tribute to Aiello on Friday and shared behind-the-scenes photos from Do The Right Thing. Aiello portrayed a local pizzeria owner named Sal who had been in the same Brooklyn neighborhood for nearly three decades and experienced the rise of racial tension between neighbors, customers and his own family

Powerful: Spike Lee (right) posted a tribute to Aiello on Friday and shared behind-the-scenes photos from Do The Right Thing. Aiello portrayed a local pizzeria owner named Sal who had been in the same Brooklyn neighborhood for nearly three decades and experienced the rise of racial tension between neighbors, customers and his own family

Lee wrote: 'I'm [heart] Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny, We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE'

Lee wrote: 'I'm [heart] Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny, We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE'

Lee wrote: ‘I’m [heart] Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny, We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE’ 

Hollywood stars pay tribute to Danny Aiello

Veteran actor Danny Aiello died on Thursday night following a sudden illness, and stars of stage and screen paid tribute to the late and great entertainer.

Do The Right Thing director Spike Lee wrote: ‘I’m [heart] Broken. Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night,’ he wrote. ‘Danny, We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE.’

Billy Baldwin posted a heartfelt tribute to ‘a true one of a kind’ talent.

Cher mourned the man she called ‘a genius comedic actor’ and she recalled working together as ‘one of the happiest times in my life.’

Actor and longtime Howard Stern contributor, Michael Rapaport, tweeted that Aiello was a ‘huge inspiration’ for his career.

Friends: Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

Friends: Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

Friends: Spike Lee took to Instagram to share a slew of behind-the-scenes snaps while working with Aiello on Do The Right Thing

Best in the business: Billy Baldwin posted a heartfelt tribute to 'a true one of a kind' talent

Best in the business: Billy Baldwin posted a heartfelt tribute to 'a true one of a kind' talent

Best in the business: Billy Baldwin posted a heartfelt tribute to ‘a true one of a kind’ talent

In a tweet, Cher mourned the man she called 'a genius comedic actor' and she recalled working together as 'one of the happiest times in my life'

In a tweet, Cher mourned the man she called 'a genius comedic actor' and she recalled working together as 'one of the happiest times in my life'

In a tweet, Cher mourned the man she called ‘a genius comedic actor’ and she recalled working together as ‘one of the happiest times in my life’

Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her ‘first jobs ever in Hollywood.’

Alyssa Milano simply captioned a photo of the cast of the 2018 film Little Italy: ‘Rest in Peace, Danny Aiello.’

Josh Gad thanked Aiello for his multitude of ‘iconic performances’ and the legacy he left behind. 

Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her 'first jobs ever in Hollywood'

Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her 'first jobs ever in Hollywood'

Charlize Theron shared that she worked with Danny in one of her ‘first jobs ever in Hollywood’

Alyssa Milano simply captioned a photo of the cast of the 2018 film Little Italy: 'Rest in Peace, Danny Aiello'

Alyssa Milano simply captioned a photo of the cast of the 2018 film Little Italy: 'Rest in Peace, Danny Aiello'

Alyssa Milano simply captioned a photo of the cast of the 2018 film Little Italy: ‘Rest in Peace, Danny Aiello’

'So sad': Actor and longtime Howard Stern contributor, Michael Rapaport, tweeted that Aiello was a 'huge inspiration' for his career

'So sad': Actor and longtime Howard Stern contributor, Michael Rapaport, tweeted that Aiello was a 'huge inspiration' for his career

‘So sad’: Actor and longtime Howard Stern contributor, Michael Rapaport, tweeted that Aiello was a ‘huge inspiration’ for his career

Josh Gad thanked Aiello for his multitude of 'iconic performances' and the legacy he left behind

Josh Gad thanked Aiello for his multitude of 'iconic performances' and the legacy he left behind

Josh Gad thanked Aiello for his multitude of ‘iconic performances’ and the legacy he left behind