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Tribute to Actor Joseph Rigano

On March 27, 2014, actor Joseph Rigano passed away. Joe Rigano was a well known Italian –American actor in the gangster film genre. Rigano was born in 1933 in New York City. He grew up in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn and worked as a laborer early in his life. He married his wife Maria and they had three children,; Angela, Joseph and Gina. Joe began a career in acting after his friend who was a police officer suggested he try out for a role in Martin Scorsese’s film Casino. He landed the role of Vincent Borelli in the 1995 film. Vinny Vella, another New York Italian American actor and good friend of Joe’s was also cast in Casino as deli owner Artie Piscano. Joe and Vinny would go on to appear in several films and commercials together. Some of the films Joe Rigano appeared include; Casino, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coffee and Cigarettes, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Crew, Analyze This, This Thing of Ours, Four Deadly Reasons, Meet the Mobsters, Meatballs Tomatoes and Mobsters, High Times Potluck, the documentary Hey Vinny about Vinny Vella, the documentary; Little Italy: Wiseguys, Bullets, Backrooms, and ESPN Sunday night baseball commercials with Vinny Vella. Rigano was also a regular on Vincent Pastore’s Sirius Radio show called “The Wise Guy Show.” Joe Rigano also appeared in actor Tony Lip’s book Shut Up & Eat.

Joseph Rigano as Frankie the Rash in The Crew.
Touchstone Pictures

Joe was a throat cancer survivor and was known for his hoarse wheezy Godfather like voice. Vinny Vella does a great impersonation of Joe and tells some hilarious stories about Joe in the John Huba documentary Hey Vinny.

Joe touched a lot of lives and those who knew him and called him a friend, remember Joe as a great stand up guy. I spoke to some of his fellow colleagues and friends and they had nothing but great things to say about their friend Joe Rigano:

Vinny Vella: “I woke up early this morning to Joe Rigano’s wife calling me that he passed away at 2am. Joe Rigano and I have been friends for many many years, We did Casino together, Ghost Dog, Coffee and Cigarettes, ESPN commercials and on and on…I’m in shock, he wasn’t feeling well, he was a throat cancer survivor and unfortunately it came back after 40 years. I’m gonna miss Joe very much, I tried to talk to him as much as I can on the phone while he was sick until he lost his voice. I’m gonna miss Joe quite a bit, he was a close buddy of mine, may he rest in peace, my condolences to his family, I love you Joe, I am so in shock.”

Johnny Rocks: “Joe Rigano was such a fine person and actor. I had the pleasure of spending some time with him. He always treated me like family.”

John “JT Casting” Thomas: “My very dear friend and amazing actor Joseph Rigano, my prayers go out to him and his family, you will be missed!”

William DeMeo: “Joe Rigano was a great guy, a very good actor, very old school guy, a gentle guy, a back in the day guy, a really good very positive person, always a pleasure working with him, I worked with him on Searching for Bobby D, he did a great job, always fun to be around, he will be missed, let him rest in peace, God Bless!

On his Facebook page, Vincent Pastore wrote: "Rest in peace Joe Rigano: Casino, Mickey Blue Eyes, Sopranos, Analyze This, The Wise Guy Show on Sirius, what a great guy."

Frank Adonis: "I'm going to miss you Joe! You were always a good friend! rest in peace,pal, God bless you! Jesus loves you!"

Joseph Catalfumo: "Sorry Joe has left us, there is nothing greater than to be with God . He was a great American, a fine human being a good friend, and great actor .,. It was an honor to have known him and to have worked with him on film projects such as Mickey Blue Eyes etc. etc. etc. My prayers go out to his wife Marie, family and friends. I love you Joe and I will miss you RIP with God prayers always love NewYork Joe."

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