“Danny” Aiello Jr. is an American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures, including Once Upon a Time in America, Ruby, The Godfather: Part II, Hudson Hawk, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Moonstruck, Léon: The Professional, Two Days in the Valley, and Dinner Rush. He had a pivotal role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing as Salvatore “Sal” Frangione, the pizzeria owner, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Aiello is also known for his role as Don Domenico Clericuzio in the miniseries, Mario Puzo’s The Last Don.
Aiello broke into films in the early 1970s. One of his earliest roles came as a ballplayer in the 1973 baseball drama, Bang the Drum Slowly, with Robert De Niro. Aiello had a walk-on role as small-time hood Tony Rosato in The Godfather Part II (1974), ad-libbing the famous line “Michael Corleone says hello!” during a hit on a rival gangster Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo).
In 1980, Aiello had a co-lead role with Jan Michael Vincent in Defiance, about some Manhattan residents who fight back against the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood. The next year, he received considerable acclaim for playing a racist New York City cop in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) with Paul Newman.
In 1981, Danny Aiello won a Daytime Emmy award for his appearance in an ABC Afterschool Special called A Family of Strangers.
Aiello’s singing has been on display in films such as Hudson Hawk (1991), Once Around (1991), and Remedy that starred his son Ricky Aiello and Jonathan Doscher. He has released several albums featuring a big-band sound including I Just Wanted To Hear The Words (2004) and Live From Atlantic City (2008). Aiello and EMI songwriter Hasan Johnson released an album in 2011 of standards fused with rap entitled Bridges.
He played the title character for the video of Madonna’s song, “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986).
Aiello’s Broadway theatre credits include Gemini, The Floating Light Bulb, Hurlyburly, and The House of Blue Leaves. He also was in the 1976 Broadway play Wheelbarrow Closers, directed by Paul Sorvino.
In July, 2011, opened Off Broadway in the two-act drama The Shoemaker, written by Susan Charlotte and directed by Antony Marsellis. The play is a stage version of his 2006 movie A Broken Sole, which began life in 2001 as a one-act play.