Frank Albanese, who played Tony Soprano’s uncle, retired mobster Pat Blundetto, in three episodes of “The Sopranos,” died Monday in a Staten Island, N.Y. hospice. He was 84.
Albanese, who performed on stage, in films and on television, was a longshoreman and then a successful boxer before becoming an actor.
With the help of middleweight boxer Rocky Graziano, who served as his mentor, Albanese got a tiny speaking part in Martin Ritt’s 1968 Mafia film “The Brotherhood,” starring Kirk Douglas, which enabled him to join the Screen Actors Guild; he subsequently studied acting with Uta Hagen, among others.
Albanese’s other credits included playing Paul Castellano in a reenactment on “America’s Most Wanted” as well as appearances in two “Godfather” films and in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas.”
He also guested on the soaps “As the World Turns” and “Loving” and appeared in the 1969 film “Goodbye, Columbus,” based on the Philip Roth novel.
In addition to SAG, he was a member of the Lambs, a Manhattan social club for actors.
Albanese grew up in Manhattan, where his parents had a grocery store, and moved to Staten Island in 1959. As a heavyweight prizefighter, he won 14 bouts, but a brain injury ended his boxing career; he then found work as a longshoreman through Graziano.