Tony Lo Bianco, ‘French Connection,’ ‘Seven-Ups’ actor, dead at 87

Tony Lo Bianco

Actor Tony Lo Bianco, who played tough-guy characters in “The French Connection” and “The Seven-Ups” and starred in a one-man show about New York Mayor Fiorella La Guardia, died June 11. He was 87.

The actor died of prostate cancer at his horse farm in Poolesville, Maryland, his wife, Alyse Lo Bianco, told The Washington Post.

The Brooklyn-born son of a cab driver and a Golden Gloves fighter, Lo Bianco appeared on Broadway and in more than 100 films during his six-decade acting career, according to the newspaper.

Flashing a sly smile and a macho demeanor, Lo Bianco played Sal Boca, the owner of a Brooklyn diner who showed off his expensive cars and wardrobe thanks to drug money in 1971′s “The French Connection” in 1971, The New York Times reported.

Two years later, Lo Bianco played Vito Lucia, a mortician at one of the mob’s funeral homes, in “The Seven-Ups,” according to the newspaper.

Lo Bianco also had a memorable role as a smooth-talking con man in the 1970 film “The Honeymoon Killers,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The actor also appeared on screen in “F.I.S.T.” (1978), “City Heat” (1984), and “Nixon” (1995), the Post reported. He also played Ray Romano’s father in the 2022 film, “Somewhere in Queens.”

Late in his career, Lo Bianco was noted for his stage portrayal of La Guardia, the three-term mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945, according to the Post.

Lo Bianco won an Obie Award in 1975 for “Yanks 3, Detroit 0, Top of the Seventh,” in which he played Duke Bronkowski, a pitcher attempting to toss a perfect game late in his major league baseball career, the Times reported.

The actor was born Anthony Lo Bianco in Brooklyn, New York, on Oct. 19, 1936, according to the newspaper.

His grandparents came from Sicily, and his parents -- his father was a taxi driver who owned his own cab -- were from New York City, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He took the show on the road, performing at universities and community colleges as well as cities in Russia and Italy, the Post reported.

Lo Bianco attended a vocational high school, boxed in a Golden Gloves tournament and had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, the entertainment news website reported.

“I was too short for first base, I don’t think I had a strong enough arm for pitching, and I wasn’t fast enough for the outfield,” he told the Times in a 1975 interview. “I was left‐handed, so that left out the infield and catching.”

Lo Bianco’s boxing background served him well as he played heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano in 1979′s “Marciano” and Frankie Carbo, a mob-connected boxing promoter, in “Rocky Marciano” (1999), the Times reported.

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