Frank Albanese, a boxer-turned-actor who played Tony Soprano’s farm-owning “Uncle Pat” on The Sopranos and appeared in Goodfellas among other films, died Monday at a hospice on Staten Island, NY. He was 84. His death was confirmed by a local mortuary.
A protégé of former middleweight champ Rocky Graziano, Albanese won more than a dozen fights before he career was cut short by a brain injury. Graziano eventually got him a bit role in the 1968 Kirk Douglas mafia pic The Brotherhood. That opened the door to other roles in film, TV and theater, including a mob attorney Martin Scorsese’s 1990 crime classic Goodfellas.
Albanese first appeared on HBO’s The Sopranos as retired gangster Patrizio “Uncle Pat” Blundetto, in a pair of 2004 episodes. Uncle to Christopher Moltisanti — but not blood related to Tony, who called him Uncle Pat — he owned of the farm where a number of the Soprano family’s “casualties” were unceremoniously interred. Suffering from dementia, he quite unfortunately was not able to recall where certain bodies — or body parts — were buried on his farm. The character would return for two more episodes during the series’ final season in 2007.
Albanese also appeared in Neil Simon’s 1971 comedy Plaza Suite and as Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano in a re-enactment for a 1989 episode of America’s Most Wanted. He also had a small role in the 1995 crimo thriller Dead Presidents.