Sonny Grosso, an NYPD detective who, along with partner Eddie Egan, inspired William Friedkin’s 1971 crime classic The French Connection, died yesterday in Manhattan following a long illness. He was 88.
In the film, a character based on Grosso (born Salvatore Grosso) was played by Roy Scheider (Gene Hackman played his Egan-inspired partner Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle).
The New York Daily News was first to report Grosso’s death, with Retired NYPD Capt. Ernie Naspretto confirming.
Both Grosso and Egan were given small parts in the film, and Grosso would later appear in Friedkin’s 1980 Cruising, as well as an uncredited part in The Godfather. (Godfather lore has it that Grosso’s gun was used by Al Pacino when Michael Corleone retrieves the weapon in a restaurant men’s room).
After The French Connection, based on a real-life heroin ring bust, Grosso served as a consultant and producer on projects like Baretta and Kojak.
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