Tony Lo Bianco, Broadway Star and “The French Connection” Actor, Dies at 87

The Tony-nominated Tony Lo Bianco was known for his roles in 1970s crime films and New York theater

<p>Mike Pont/WireImage</p> Tony Lo Bianco in 2016

Mike Pont/WireImage

Tony Lo Bianco in 2016

Tony Lo Bianco, known for his roles in crime films The Honeymoon Killers, The French Connection and The Seven-Ups, has died. He was 87 years old.

The Tony Award-nominated actor died Tuesday, June 11 of prostate cancer at his Poolesville, Maryland horse farm, his wife Alyse confirmed toThe Hollywood Reporter.

The son of Sicilian immigrants, Lo Bianco was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1936. "My father was a taxicab driver and owned his own cab. Mom was a housewife,” he told Broadway World in 2019. “We were a loving family,” he said at the time.

He also said he “never made it easy on myself” when it came to playing baseball or studying theater at William E. Grady CTE High School, a Brooklyn vocational school. “I was always pressing myself to do better."

Related: William Friedkin, Oscar-Winning Director of 'The Exorcist' and 'The French Connection,' Dead at 87

After studying acting at New York City’s Dramatic Workshop — and becoming a Golden Gloves boxer — Lo Bianco founded the Upper East Side’s Triangle Theatre in 1963, serving as its artistic director for six years and directing and producing shows.

<p>Shutterstock </p> (Left-right:) Michael Rispoli, Alec Baldwin, Tony Lo Bianco and Peter Rini in 'The Juror'


(Left-right:) Michael Rispoli, Alec Baldwin, Tony Lo Bianco and Peter Rini in 'The Juror'

During that time, Lo Bianco earned his first of 10 Broadway credits, as a replacement in Threepenny Opera and understudy in Incident at Vichy. Before becoming a Best Actor Tony nominee, for the 1983 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, he won an Obie Award for 1975’s Off-Broadway production of Jonathan Reynolds’ Yanks-3, Detroit-0, Top of the Seventh.

Lo Bianco’s Hollywood debut was 1965’s The Sex Perils of Paulette, which preceded his biggest film roles: playing "lonely hearts killer" Raymond Fernandez in Leonard Kastle’s 1970 thriller The Honeymoon Killers and Salvatore "Sal" Boca in William Friedkin's 1971 Oscar Best Picture winner The French Connection.

In 1973 he reunited with French Connection costar Roy Scheider — who had worked with Lo Bianco in Triangle Theatre productions — for another crime film, The Seven-Ups.

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In television, he made numerous guest-star appearances on series throughout the 1970s and ’80s, including Police Story starting in 1974, Jesus of Nazareth in 1977, and Marco Polo in 1982.

<p>Shutterstoc</p> Tony Lo Bianco in 'The French Connection'


Tony Lo Bianco in 'The French Connection'

Lo Bianco also continued working on stage, playing New York politician Fiorello H. La Guardia in Paul Shyre’s one-man show Hizzoner!, which earned him a New York Emmy Award, TV movie adaptation and and brief Broadway run in 1989.

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His over 100 film credits includes the most recent, 2022’s comedy Somewhere in Queens, directed by and starring Ray Romano.

Lo Bianco earned awards for his humanitarian efforts within the Italian-American community, including the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America. On his website, he wrote that he was "proud of his involvement with The USO, Building Homes for Heroes, The Wounded Warrior Project, NIAF, Sons of Italy in America, Police and Fire Department and many other charitable organizations.”

He is survived by Alyse, his wife since 2015, and multiple children and grandchildren.

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