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French Connection actor Tony Lo Bianco dies at 87

French Connection actor Tony Lo Bianco dies at 87
French Connection actor Tony Lo Bianco dies at 87


Tony Lo Bianco, an actor whose movie roles who included villains in The French Connection and The Honeymoon Killers and whose stage career brought him excellent reviews for an Arthur Miller tragedy and an Obie Award for a baseball drama, died Tuesday at his home in Poolesville , in Maryland. He was 87 years old.

The cause was prostate cancer, said his wife, Alyse Lo Bianco.

Mr. Lo Bianco made a strong impression in The Honeymoon Killers (1970), a low-budget black-and-white film, based on a true story, which became a cult classic. With a thick Spanish accent and serious sideburns, he plays Raymond Fernandez, a con artist who woos, marries and murders single women for their bank accounts, passing off his real lover (Shirley Stoler) as his sister. British newspaper The Guardian called the film the first super-realistic depiction of the banality of evil.

A United Press International writer once called Mr. Lo Bianco born heavy because of his dark hair, bushy eyebrows and sharp features. In The French Connection (1971), moviegoers saw him as modest Brooklyn restaurant owner Sal and Angies, dressed to the nines and driving a Lincoln with European plates, thanks to international drug money. In The Seven-Ups (1973), he was an undertaker at one of the mob's favorite funeral homes.

But Mr. Lo Bianco was a theater actor at heart. He won an Obie Award in 1975 for Yanks 3, Detroit 0, Top of the Seventh, in which he played Duke Bronkowski, a baseball player with age and time breathing down his neck who attempts to throw a perfect game during his 14th season in the major leagues.

Eight years later, he triumphed on Broadway in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge (1983), in the role of a Brooklyn longshoreman destroyed by his obsession with his 17-year-old niece. This performance earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play.

Frank Rich, in his New York Times review, called it a tempestuous star performance and described Mr. Lo Bianco as a force so dynamic and enveloping that the audience never questions the action of the play. He appears, writes Mr. Rich, to make the theater tremble.

Mr. Lo Bianco's success stems in part from his previous experience with the role Mr. Lo Bianco played in summer stocks in the 1960s. I knew this would happen 20 years ago, he said. he declared in all modesty about receiving the coins. This doesn't surprise me at all. I knew the power of this room.

Anthony LoBianco was born in Brooklyn on October 19, 1936. His parents Carmelo LoBianco, a taxi driver, and Sally (Blando) LoBianco were both first-generation Italian-Americans. Anthony attended a vocational high school, where a speech therapy and drama teacher suggested he study acting.

But first, he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers in high school, but he was sure he wasn't good enough. I was too small for first base, I don't think I had a strong enough arm for throwing, and I wasn't fast enough for the outfield, he told the Times in 1975. I was left-handed , which left out the infield and catching.

Instead, he enrolled in the New School's drama workshop and, in 1963, established the Triangle Theater Company, where he directed productions and appeared in The Adding Machine, Nature of the Crime, The Threepenny Opera and other parts. His Broadway credits included Tartuffe, Incident at Vichy, The Royal Hunt for the Sun and The Mistress of the Ninety Days.

In 1970, Clive Barnes of The Times called the play Nature of the Crime confusing and murky. But, he writes, Mr. Lo Bianco acts with a naturalness that defies the scenario, adding: “His attitude is so convincing that from time to time, one can believe in the impossibilities of his role and delight in the moral rectitude of the 'author.

He made his television debut as Dr. Joe Corelli on the drama series Love of Life in the early 1970s and went on to play more than 90 other roles on the small screen. He was heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano in Marciano (1979) and Frankie Carbo, a boxing promoter with ties to the Mafia, in Rocky Marciano (1999). He appeared in TV films like Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and Bella Mafia (1997); the Italian mini-series The novel (1988), with Gina Lollobrigida; and series including Police Story, Law & Order, Palace Guard and Homicide: Life on the Street.

His films also included Bloodbrothers (1978), FIST (1978), John Sayless City of Hope (1991), Oliver Stones Nixon (1995) and his latest, Somewhere in Queens (2022), a comedy-drama starring and directed by Ray Roman. . He also taught acting at the Stella Adler Studio.

Mr. Lo Bianco, who added this space to his last name early in his career, was married and twice divorced from Dora Landey, a stage actress at the time, with whom he had three daughters, from 1964 to 1984; and with Elizabeth Eileen Natwick, from 2002 to 2008. He married Alyse Best Muldoon, a writer, in 2015. They had homes in Poolesville and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Yummy Helmes and Nina Landey; a brother, John; two stepchildren, Tristan Hamilton and Lanah Fitzgerald; six grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren. Another daughter from his first marriage, Anna Avila, deceased of breast cancer in 2006.

Fiorello La Guardia, flamboyant mayor of New York in the 1930s and 1940s, became his favorite subject. He originated the role in Hizzoner! in an Albany theater in 1984; it had a short run on Broadway in 1989 and won a local Emmy while filming for New York's PBS station WNET.

He returned to the role again and again, in the United States and abroad, in rewritten versions titled LaGuardia and The Little Flower. And he spoke of La Guardia as a role model more than his own character.

He was a man of action, Mr. Lo Bianco told Newsday in 2005. He was a dreamer and a man of action. I want people to be inspired.

Alex Traub reports contributed.




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