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Legendary Sopranos Actor Richard Romanus Passes Away at 80: Iconic Tough Guy with Memorable Mean Streets Appearance

Richard Romanus
Richard Romanus (Credits: Pinterest)

Richard Romanus, known for his memorable performances in The Sopranos, Mean Streets, and Heavy Metal, passed away at the age of 80. His son, Robert Romanus, confirmed the news to the Hollywood Reporter, revealing that Richard died at a private hospital in Volos, Greece, on December 23. The cause of death was not disclosed.

In The Sopranos, Richard portrayed the character Richard La Penna, Dr. Jennifer Melfi’s husband, appearing in four episodes from 1999 to 2002. His noteworthy roles also included Michael Longo in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) and the role of cab driver Harry Canyon in Heavy Metal (1981).

Richard Romanus

Richard Romanus (Credits: Comic Book)

Born on February 8, 1943, in Barrem, Vermont, to dentist Dr. Raymond Romanos, Richard grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut. He earned his bachelor’s in philosophy from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1964. After a brief stint in law school, he shifted his career to acting, training at New York’s Carnegie Hall under Lee Strasberg.

Richard married Tina Bohlmann in 1967, and they had a son before divorcing in 1980. He later married Oscar-nominated costume designer Anthea Sylbert in 2004. Notably, his scene with Robert De Niro in Mean Streets (1973) became iconic, with director Scorsese highlighting the real animosity between the two actors during filming.

In the 1981-82 television season, Romanus gained a recurring role as Detective Lieutenant Charlie Gunzer on the ABC crime series ‘Strike Force,’ produced by Aaron Spelling. The show, which also starred Robert Stack, was canceled after 20 episodes.

Having relocated to Skiathos, Greece, with his wife two decades ago, Romanus turned to writing. In 2011, he published his memoirs, ACT III, which was shortlisted for the International Rubery Book Award. He also authored two novels set in Greece: Chrysalis (2011) and Matoula’s Echo (2014).

Richard and Anthea produced two Lifetime telefilms, ‘Giving Up the Ghost’ and ‘If You Believe,’ earning a nomination for the WGA Award for Original Long Form for the latter. He leaves behind his son Robert, his second wife, Anthea Sylbert, and his younger brother Robert Romanus.

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