Known for his roles in ‘Fort Apache, the Bronx,’ Oscar-nominated ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘Moonstruck,’ Bronx native and renown actor, Danny Aiello passed away last week at the age of 86.
Aiello died Thursday, Decmember 12 in New Jersey after a brief illness.
The ‘Godfather II’ actor attended James Monroe High School, was a singer, a union representative for the Greyhound bus drivers, a bouncer at the legendary New York comedy club the Improv, was an active member of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and his nephew, Michael Kay, is the announcer for the New York Yankees.
In 2004, Aiello released his first single, ‘All of Me,’ which was followed up later that year with an album, ‘I Just Wanted To Hear The Words.’
Aiello’s niece, Marcie Manfredonia, who owns Nationwide Maintenance in the Bronx, spoke about her uncle with the Bronx Times.
“He was amazing. He was so genuine when you were with him,” she said.
Manfredonia explained when she was with Aiello it never felt like she was with a famous person; it was just her uncle.
However, she acknowledged that he always had time to take pictures with fans or talk with them.
She noted his presence would light up a room. His warm personality always made everyone laugh and feel welcome.
“Everybody just loved him to death,” she said.
Manfredonia recalled how even if they hadn’t seen each other in a while, it would never seem as if time had passed when they got together.
Her father, Jimmy, got Aiello his first job and years later; he returned the favor, as he helped get her company a contract at Yankee Stadium.
Whether it was his singing, acting or fandom of the Bronx Bombers, he was a wonderful person who will be missed, she said.
Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan recalled meeting Aiello when he was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2002. Aiello told him how he originally wanted to be a pool hustler.
So, years ago, he went to a pool hall on the corner of Southern Boulevard and East Tremont Avenue and it was there where he met a young Al Pacino and spawned a lifelong friendship.