The Godfather star James Caan has passed away…

James Caan, an American actor best known for playing Sonny Corleone in the mafia drama The Godfather and a number of important movies from the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 82.

His Twitter account announced the news on Thursday. We regret to notify you of Jimmy’s departure on the evening of July 6, according to a statement. The family thanks you for your kind thoughts and sympathy, and requests that you continue to respect their privacy at this trying time.

Famous for leading a wild party lifestyle, Caan carved a path through Hollywood in the 1970s and the early 1980s. He then abruptly stopped acting and disappeared for what the actor called a “pretty scary period,” before staging a comeback in the late 1980s and garnering praise for movies like Misery, The Yards, and Elf.

The son of a kosher butcher, Caan was born in the Bronx in New York City in 1940. Caan initially wanted to become a football player in order to avoid following in his father’s footsteps into the meat industry, but after attending Hofstra University in New York State, where he met future colleague Francis Ford Coppola, he developed an interest in acting.

Caan subsequently enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, and his Broadway debut in 1961’s production of William Goldman and James Goldman’s play about the Second World War, Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole earned him his first notable acting recognition.

After a series of small-scale film and television roles, Caan finally earned a leading role in Howard Hawks’ stock car racing drama Red Line 7000 in 1965. He then appeared alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in Hawks’ western El Dorado in 1966. In the 1967 space drama Countdown, directed by a then-unknown Robert Altman, Caan was given the role of a hitchhiking former college football star who is picked up by Shirley Knight’s disgruntled middle-class housewife. This was Caan’s first notable association with the Hollywood new wave.

After starring in a mediocre 1970 film version of John Updike’s acclaimed book Rabbit, Run, Caan made a significant breakthrough with Coppola’s The Godfather. When Coppola insisted on Al Pacino for the character of Michael Corleone, Caan was offered another coveted role—that of Sonny Corleone, the older brother of the Corleone family—despite the studio bosses’ preference for Al Pacino. For the role of Sonny’s gruesome death scene, Caan received his lone Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Caan revealed that he was fitted with over 140 “squibs,” or explosive blood pellets, to simulate gunshot wounds.

The Gambler (directed by Karel Reisz), the buddy cop comedy Freebie and the Bean with Alan Arkin, and the dystopian sci-fi parody Rollerball were among the high-profile movies in which Caan went on to feature in the 1970s and cemented his place in the new generation of American acting ability. Additionally, he had appearances in more conventional films including A Bridge Too Far and the musical Funny Lady starring Barbra Streisand. In addition, Caan rose to fame as a result of the parts he declined, such as those in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, and Kramer vs. Kramer.

Michael Mann’s 1981 film Thief, in which Caan played a safecracker who battles the mob, gave him hope that he could reinvent himself for the new decade, but his career would soon go downhill. After leaving the Robert Ludlum thriller The Holcroft Covenant, Caan’s career collapsed due to the loss of his sister and his heavy drug use (he was replaced by Michael Caine). When Coppola cast Caan in his Vietnam War drama Gardens of Stone in 1987, Caan wouldn’t make another Hollywood appearance until then. He followed it up with the well-liked Alien Nation, but Rob Reiner’s version of Stephen King’s Misery, in which Caan portrayed the bedridden author subject to the attentions of obnoxious nurse/fan Kathy Bates, was when he firmly established himself.

After that, Caan continued to work steadily, frequently capitalizing on his reputation for sass and hard living. He acted in comedies like Honeymoon in Vegas, Bulletproof, and Mickey Blue Eyes as well as Hollywood thrillers like Flesh and Bone, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, and Eraser. He also occasionally appeared in prestige dramas like Lars von Trier’s Brechtian parable Dogville and James Gray’s sprawling crime epic The Yards. In addition, Caan played the father of Will Ferrell’s character in the beloved holiday comedies Elf and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He portrayed Jennifer Rockwell’s father in Carol Morley’s 2018 adaption of Martin Amis’ Out of Blue.

Caan married Dee Jay Mathis from 1961 to 1966, Sheila Marie Ryan from 1975 to 1976, Ingrid Hajek from 1990 to 1994, and Linda Stokes from 1995 to 2017. He has five kids, and Scott, one of them, continued his acting career by making appearances in films like Gone in 60 Seconds, Ocean’s Eleven, and the revival of Hawaii Five-0.

Hollywood has begun to pay tribute, including Rob Reiner, who helmed Caan in Misery. In a statement, he said, “I was really devastated to hear about Jimmy leaving us. Working with him was fantastic. He was the only Jew I knew who could rope a calf with the best of them in addition to being a gifted performer with natural instincts. I send my condolences to his family.

“Jimmy was someone who extended through my life longer and closer than any motion picture figure I’ve ever known,” Coppola said in a statement to Deadline. From the start of my work on The Rain People to all of my life’s turning points. We shall never forget the fantastic roles he portrayed in his films and other notable performances. One of my closest friends from Sunnyside, a collaborator, and the funniest person I’ve ever met.

I’m so sad to hear about Jimmy,” tweeted Barbra Streisand beside a photo of the two from their time on the set of Funny Lady. He had such skill.

Jimmy was my imaginary brother and my lifetime buddy, Pacino said in a statement. Because he was so vibrant and courageous, it is difficult to imagine that he will no longer be living. a superb director, a wonderful performer, and my close friend. He will be missed by me.

“I’m very, very sad to learn about Jimmy’s demise,” stated Robert De Niro.

Loved him a lot, commented Adam Sandler, who co-starred with Caan in the films Bulletproof and That’s My Boy. I’ve always wished I were him. I’m so glad I met him. When I was around that man, I never once stopped laughing. His films were among the very best. He will be sorely missed by everyone. I have his family in my prayers and give my love.

Gary Sinise, an actor and close friend, has expressed his sympathy. He tweeted, “Very sad to hear the news that James Caan has passed away.” Heartbroken for his friends and family. Wonderful to call him a friend and to know him.

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