Genaro Anthony "Tony" Sirico, Jr. (born July 29, 1942) is an ex-associate of the Colombo crime family of New York City who later went onto become an actor and voice actor who is most noted for his role as the mobster Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri in the television series The Sopranos.
Before turning to acting, Sirico was convicted of several crimes, and had been arrested 28 times. There is a Sopranos reference to this fact when Paulie says, "I lived through the seventies by the skin of my nuts when the Colombos were goin' at it." In 1967, he was sent to prison for robbing a Brooklyn after-hours club, but was released after serving thirteen months. Sirico was investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney's office for alleged extortionate activity against the owners of several nightclubs. After a dispute with a disco owner, Sirico once warned, "I'm going to come back here and carve my initials in your forehead. You better learn a lesson, you better show me the respect I deserve". He was once actually declared a "danger to society" by a New York judge. A Bellevue Hospital psychiatric report from that period concluded that Sirico suffered from a "character disorder."
On February 27, 1970, he was arrested and subsequently indicted for extortion and menacing but plea-bargained to a charge of felony gun possession. In 1971, he pled guilty to felony weapons possession and was sentenced to an "indeterminate" prison term of up to four years, of which Sirico ended up serving 20 months. Sirico said that during his imprisonment, he was visited by an acting troupe composed of ex-cons, which inspired him to give acting a try. According to a court transcript, at the time of his sentencing, he also had pending charges for drug possession. Sirico appeared in a 1989 documentary about life, The Big Bang by James Toback, in which he discussed his earlier life. Since then, Sirico has had no further trouble with the law.
Acting Career Edit
Sirico has played gangsters in a number of films, including Goodfellas, Mob Queen, Gangsters, Mighty Aphrodite, Love and Money, Fingers, The One Man Jury, Defiance, The Last Fight, Innocent Blood, Bullets Over Broadway, The Pick-up Artist, Gotti, The Search for One-eye Jimmy, Cop Land, Turn of Faith, and Mickey Blue Eyes.
Sirico's most well known role has been playing the gangster Paulie Gualtieri on The Sopranos (1999-2007).
He also played policemen in the films Dead Presidents and Deconstructing Harry. Recently, he told the host of a Las Vegas radio show he would be playing the role of an ill-tempered high school football coach in an upcoming comedy for kids called Sports Heaven. He is currently set to star in the upcoming drama Zarra's Law, written and produced by Joseph Scarpinito for Scarpe Diem Productions. In late 2013, he voiced the character of Vinny Griffin, who was the family pet in Family Guy.
Sirico has a son and a daughter and currently resides in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.