The NYPD responded to a call early Monday morning just before 4 a.m. in the Bronx and found Vallelonga Jr. laying unconscious and unresponsive on the ground. Following the arrival of EMS to the location, the actor was pronounced dead on the scene. The NYPD also confirmed the arrest of a 35-year-old man named Steven Smith on charges of concealment of a human corpse.
Vallelonga Jr. was the son of late actor Tony Lip, whose real name was Frank Vallelonga. Before Lip died in 2013, he consistently took on roles as mafia crime bosses throughout his acting career, notably portraying Carmine Lupertazzi in HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Lip also portrayed mobster Philip Giaccone in “Donnie Brasco” and real-life Lucchese crime family mobster Francesco Manzo in “Goodfellas,” in addition to playing a small role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.”
In director Peter Farrelly’s 2018 film “Green Book,” Vallelonga Jr. played his real-life uncle, Rudy Vallelonga, while actor Viggo Mortensen portrayed his father, Tony Lip, in the best picture winner. Vallelonga Jr. also appeared in the independent feature “The Birthday Cake” and on an episode of TV series “The Neighborhood.”
Before Lip began his acting career, he spent time as a bouncer and in 1962 was hired to drive and protect classical jazz pianist Don Shirley, which became the narrative basis for the film. Shirley was played by actor Mahershala Ali in the movie. Vallelonga Jr.’s brother, Nick Vallelonga, co-wrote the script and produced the film, which also won best original screenplay at the 91st Academy Awards.
The NYPD noted that the investigation surrounding Vallelonga Jr.’s death is ongoing and that a medical examiner will determine the cause of his death.