Frank Vincent dead at 78, by Tyler Smith
Actor Frank Vincent has passed away at the age of 78. Vincent made a career out of playing cops and criminals, with his most memorable role being that of Billy Batts in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. With his sneering, condescending delivery of one of the most dismissive lines of dialogue ever written (“Go get your shine box!”), Vincent cemented his place in film history.
Starting with Raging Bull, Vincent would work with Scorsese several times, and showed up in a few Spike Lee joints, as well. He acted in dozens of films and television shows, both high and low profile. Likely his most notable recent performance was in HBO’s The Sopranos, playing the moody, petulant crime boss Phil Leotardo; a character so unrepentantly unpleasant that his eventual death still brings a smile to my face. That Vincent was so fully committed to be that unlikable is actually admirable, maybe even to the point of nobility.
Frank Vincent was one of those character actors that everybody recognized, but few could remember the name of. His reliable characterizations lent an air of authenticity to every project he was in. Just seeing him on screen made the world seem a bit more genuine. He wasn’t a name, but was in fact more vital than that. He was a face and a voice and a general presence that drew the eye whenever he was on screen. He could square off against forceful actors like Robert De Niro and James Gandolfini and seem like a genuine threat, or at least a formidable obstacle.
Frank Vincent was a dependable and dynamic actor. He will be missed.