Tony Lip (born Frank Anthony Vallelonga; July 30, 1930 – January 4, 2013) was an American actor and author. Lip was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and grew up in near Gambino Boss John Gotti's childhood home in the Bronx, NY. Tony was given the nickname of Lip as he was a good talker and had a way with words. Lip served in the military in 1951 and 1953 in the Army and was stationed in Germany. Starting in 1961 Lip began working as a maitre d and supervisor in the famous New York club the Copacabana. It was at the Copa that Lip met several famous celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Francis Ford Coppola and Louis DiGiamo.
Lip appeared in his first small film role in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather.Tony was best known for his role in the HBO hit show The Sopranos. In The Sopranos, Lip portrayed the character of New York crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi. In addition to the television series The Sopranos Lip also portrayed Bonanno Crime Family Boss Philip Giaccone in Donnie Brasco and real Lucchese mobster Fracesco Manzo in Goodfellas. In 2005 Lip debuted his book Shut up and Eat!
I spoke with some of Tony Lip's friends and actors including Chazz Palminteri and Frank Adonis. They all concur that Tony was a great man and a stand up guy:
Frank Adonis says: Hi, Gary! Y'know, besides being an actor, Tony and I go back a long time! I don't know if you know this, but Tony's real name is,"Frank"! I met Tony when he worked the door at the old "Copacabana" on, E. 57th Street back in the early "Sixties" before we both decided to become actors. We were young, and lived the life we chose! Tony and I worked together on many movies, and had lots of fun, and talked about the old days! Tony was a great and talented guy, who will always be remembered, and he will surely be missed by me, and many others in the film business! Rest in Peace, Tony! Your pal, Frank Adonis . . .
Chazz Palminteri: Tony Lip was a good guy who was always happy for other people's success. He was stand-up in my book. RIP My friend.
Bartolo Raffaele: I met him couple times seem like a nice guy never had a chance to act with him.
Johnny Potenza: Tony Lip was a great man! I hung with him a couple of times at Soprano events and on set when I worked background
Dominic Mancino: All I can tell you Tony is a man that was true to his words, an old school type of guy with respect and loyalty to his family and friends, and it was my pleasure to meet him, the man was a gentleman, he respected and gave respect in the same way.
Lip died January 4, 2013 at a hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey at age 82. He is survived by his sons, Nick Vallelonga and Frank Vallelonga Jr., brother Rudy Vallelonga and one grandson. Lip had resided in Paramus, New Jersey with his wife Dolores who died in 1999.
Tony Lips Filmograpy:
- The Godfather (1972) -Bodyguard
- The Godfather A Novel for Televison (1977) - Wedding Guest
- Raging Bull (1980) - Nightcluber
- The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) - Frankie
- Year of the Dragon (1985)- Lenny Carranza
- Heart (1987) - Max
- Last Rites (1988) - Cabbie
- Lock Up (1989) - Guard
- Goodfellas (1990) - Frankie The Wop
- 29th Street (1991) - Nicky Bad Lung
- Innocent Blood (1992) - Frank
- Who's the Man? (1993) - Vito Pasquale
- A Brilliant Disguise (1994) - Pete
- Donnie Brasco (1997) - Philly Lucky
- A Brooklyn State of Mind (1998) - Bartender
- The Signs of the Cross (2005) - Mario
- All In (2006) - Darkman
- Stiletto (2008) - Gus
- Law & Order (1992/1996) - Bobby Murrows
- The Sopranos (2001/2007) -Carmine Lupertazzi