Tony Lo Bianco, The French Connection star, dead at 87

Lo Bianco was also known for television appearances in ‘Police Story’ and ‘Law & Order’

Kevin E G Perry
Los Angeles
Wednesday 12 June 2024 18:33
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The French Connection trailer

Tony Lo Bianco, best known for playing the mobster Sal Boca in 1971’s The French Connection, has died. He was 87.

In a statement to Fox News, Lo Bianco’s representative confirmed that the actor died on Tuesday night (June 11) at his horse farm in Maryland from prostate cancer.

“His beloved wife, Alyse, was by his side,” the representative added.

Lo Bianco was born in New York on October 19, 1936, the son of Sicilian immigrants.

In his youth, he was an amateur Golden Gloves boxer, before moving into acting and founding the Triangle Theatre in 1963.

He made his film debut in 1965 as Allen in The Sex Perils of Paulette and went on to play a murderer in the 1970 crime film The Honeymoon Killers.

Tony Lo Bianco attending a screening of ‘Grudge Match’ in New York in 2013
Tony Lo Bianco attending a screening of ‘Grudge Match’ in New York in 2013 (Getty Images)

The following year he appeared in William Friedkin’s critically acclaimed crime action film The French Connection, playing the mobster and shop owner Salvatore “Sal” Boca opposite Gene Hackman as Detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Roy Scheider as Detective Buddy “Cloudy” Russo.

From 1974 to 1976, Lo Bianco played a leading role in Joseph Wambaugh's anthology television series Police Story.

He was also a celebrated theater actor, earning a Tony Award nomination and winning the Outer Critics Circle Award in 1983 for his portrayal of Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

Lo Bianco portrayed the influential New York City mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia on several occasions. He first played him in the one-man show Hizzoner!, written in 1984 by Paul Shyre and later staged on Broadway in 1989.

He reprised the role in a revised version of the play titled LaGuardia in 2008 and returned again to the character in 2012 for the off-Broadway play The Little Flower. Lo Bianco personally rewrote the play after buying the rights from Shyre’s estate, commenting that he views the story of La Guardia as “a vehicle to express my concerns for the public and political mess that we’re in, which we continue to be in, I think, and try to relate answers to failure.”

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He continued to act on film and television throughout his life, appearing in several episodes of Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street. He made his final film appearance in Ray Romano’s comedy Somewhere in Queens in 2022.

Lo Bianco was married to Dora Landey from 1964 until 1984, and they had three daughters. He was married to Elizabeth Fitzpatrick from 2002 until 2008, and then to Alyse Best Muldoon from June 2015 until his death.

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