Robert Loggia, actor for his tough-guy roles, dies at 85

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actor, Mizzou Alum Robert Loggia Dies.

The actor, who played drug lord Frank Lopez in movie classic Scarface and picked up an Oscar nomination for his role in Jagged Edge, died at his home on Friday (04Dec15), according to his wife Audrey.Robert Loggia, the gravelly voiced character actor who danced with Tom Hanks on a giant floor keyboard in “Big,” fought aliens in “Independence Day” and trafficked in drugs in “Scarface,” died on Friday at age 85, his widow said.Oscar-nominated actor Robert Loggia, who was known for gravelly voiced gangsters from “Scarface” to “The Sopranos” but who was most endearing as Tom Hanks’ kid-at-heart toy-company boss in “Big,” has died.

Famous for playing gangsters and bad guys, Loggia also appeared in Big, An Officer and a Gentleman, Prizzi’s Honor and on TV series The Sopranos – as mobster Feech La Manna. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award in 1989 for his portrayal of FBI agent Nick Mancuso in Mancuso FBI, and again in 2000 for his guest role in TV comedy Malcolm in the Middle. He played wise guys in David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” the spoofs “Innocent Blood” and “Armed and Dangerous,” and again on David Chase’s “The Sopranos,” as the previously jailed veteran mobster Michele “Feech” La Manna. Army before embarking on an acting career, landing his first film role in 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me, which starred Paul Newman as boxer Rocky Graziano.

It was not as a gangster but as a seedy detective that Loggia received his only Academy Award nomination, as supporting actor in 1985’s “Jagged Edge.” He played gumshoe Sam Ransom, who investigated a murder involving Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges. His most famous role was in director Penny Marshall’s bittersweet comedy Big, released in 1988 starring Tom Hanks as a boy whose wish to become an adult magically comes true. He lost the best supporting actor Oscar to Don Ameche of “Cocoon.” Also in 1985, he starred alongside Jack Nicholson in director John Huston’s black comedy “Prizzi’s Honor,” which was nominated for a best picture Oscar. Hanks played an adolescent granted a wish to be big, overnight becoming a 30-something man who —— still mentally a boy —— eventually finds work at a toy company run by Loggia’s character. Together they danced to the songs Heart and Soul and Chopsticks on the jumbo floor keyboard at New York’s fabled FAO Schwarz toy store, in what was one of the famous cinematic scenes of the 1980s.

A chance meeting in a toy store leads to the pair tapping out joyful duets of “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” on the piano keys built into the floor. Loggia said Marshall allowed him and Hanks a lot of freedom in deciding how the scene would unfold, giving them a cardboard mock-up of the keyboard a few weeks before the scene was shot. “She very cleverly said, ‘I don’t want you to look like trained dancers, but you do the melody and you … and Tom, you work it out for yourself,” Loggia told the Miami Herald in 2006.

He played a general who advises the president of the United States, played by Bill Pullman, as tentacled aliens in huge spaceships devastate cities worldwide. When the series was canceled after one season, however, the distraught Loggia largely dropped out of the business for a time. “It was a Dante’s ‘Inferno’ period for me that most men and women go through if they’ve taken paths they wished they hadn’t,” he recalled in a 1986 interview. “I didn’t want to work. I was played out and I had to re-spark myself.” He returned to TV with a role in a two-part episode of the TV show “Mannix,” and he was soon working regularly again. First inclined toward newspaper work, he studied journalism at the University of Missouri, but was drawn to acting and returned to New York to study at the Actors Studio. He made his stage debut off-Broadway in 1956 in “The Man with the Golden Arm,” appearing in the title role of a drug addict, played in the movie by Frank Sinatra.

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