John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, the actor who played Albie Cianfione on The Sopranos, has died at the age of 75.
Ciarcia was known to New Yorkers as the “unofficial mayor of Little Italy”, where he owned a popular restaurant frequented by Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese. During a varied working life, he also managed the pre-fame boxing career of Taxi actor Tony Danza.
Ciarcia had a small role in Scorsese’s classic 1990 film Goodfellas and also appeared in the films Death To Smoochy, which was directed by Danny DeVito, and A Brooklyn State Of Mind, whose cast included Danza. He regularly co-hosted The Wise Guys Show on Sirius Radio with his Sopranos co-star Vincent Pastore.
His family announced in The New York Times that Ciarcia died on November 21 following a short illness. He is survived by his wife, singer Karen King, and a large extended family, who hailed him as “a great friend to many and a real lover of his neighbourhood and the city of New York”.
After hearing of his death, Danza paid tribute to Ciarcia on Twitter, writing: “New York is not the same without him”.
My dear friend Cha Cha has passed away. New York is not the same without him. pic.twitter.com/BGdXMlsg7g
— Tony Danza (@TonyDanza) November 25, 2015