(NewsGlobal.com)- James Caan, a rugged guy with curly hair who was most known for playing the hot-headed Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” and for portraying a dying football player in the legendary ballad “Brian’s Song” and a casino owner in “Las Vegas,” has passed away. He was 82.
He passed away on Wednesday, according to his manager Matt DelPiano. The reason wasn’t stated.
DelPiano said Jimmy was among the best performers. He was also witty, dependable, loving, and popular. Before anything else, our connection was always one of friendship. I’m honored to work with him.
Caan, a powerful actor with an athletic demeanor, was a football player at Michigan State University and a practical joker on set. He maintained a long career despite drug use, temper tantrums, and minor run-ins with the authorities.
Francis Ford Coppola had a soft spot for Caan since he chose him for the starring role in “Rain People” in the 1960s. He was selected for a prominent part in “The Godfather” as Sonny, Vito Corleone’s eldest son and top enforcer in the Mafia.
One of the most shocking movies moments in history saw Sonny Corleone, a violent and careless guy who committed several murders, met his demise. He once said that for many years after, random individuals would come up to him on the street and lightheartedly advise him to avoid toll roads.
Despite Coppola’s misgivings that his 1972 film was a failure, it was a substantial critical and economic triumph and earned Caan, Duvall, and Al Pacino Oscar nods for supporting actors.
He was one of Hollywood’s busiest performers after “Brian’s Song” and “The Godfather,” acting in such films as “Hide in Plain Sight” (which he also directed), “Funny Lady” (with Barbra Streisand), “The Killer Elite,” and Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two,” among others. In “The Godfather, Part II’s” flashback scene, he also had a fleeting cameo.
But he started to lose interest in movies in the early 1980s. His sister, Barbara’s death from leukemia in 1981, which had until that point served as a compass for his profession, saddened him. He had also started to deal with drug addiction.
When “Brian’s Song,” a poignant drama about Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo, who had passed away from cancer the previous year at the age of 26, aired on television in 1971, Caan had already established himself as a celebrity.
He reclaimed his status as a major star in 1990’s “Misery,” starring Kathy Bates.
As part of a song-and-dance duo entertaining American soldiers throughout World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, Caan starred in “For the Boys” alongside Bette Midler in 1991, when he was once again in high demand. He appeared in the comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas” the following year as a mock Sonny Corleone.
“Flesh and Bone,” “Bottle Rocket,” and “Mickey Blue Eyes” were some of the later movies. In “Elf,” he made a name for himself as Walter, the stoic, hardworking father of Will Ferrell’s Buddy.
With four marriages and divorces under his belt, Caan had Tara and the boys Scott, Alexander, James, and Jacob.