Robert Loggia, movie and TV tough guy, dies at 85

6 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actor Robert Loggia, played gangsters from ’Scarface’ to ’Sopranos,’ dies at 85.

Robert Loggia, an Oscar-nominated actor who had a durable career in television and movies, notably in Brian De Palma’s gangster film “Scarface” and Penny Marshall’s comedy “Big,” died Friday at his home in Los Angeles. Loggia played the kindly toy company owner in the 1988 film, and famously tickled the giant-sized, light-up ivories with Hanks in Big’s iconic keyboard scene.

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. Elizabeth Perkins, who starred alongside Hanks and Loggia in the film, also paid tribute, as did other celebrities like Seth MacFarlane, Kevin Spacey, and Roland Emmerich. His wife, Audrey, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease. “He struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for five years,” she said. “It just took its natural progression.” Mr. 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.

Loggia (pronounced LOH-juh) fit neatly into gangster roles, playing a Miami drug lord in “Scarface” (1983), which starred Al Pacino; and a Sicilian mobster in “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985), with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner. 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. In the comic fantasy “Big” (1988), he played Macmillan, a toy company executive who befriends a child trapped in the body of an adult man, played by Tom Hanks.

Loggia also appeared in five films for comedy director Blake Edwards, including three “Pink Panther” films and the dark comedy “S.O.B.” He also portrayed Joseph, husband of Mary, in George Stevens’ biblical epic “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Asked in 1990 how he maintained such a varied career, he responded: “I’m a character actor in that I play many different roles, and I’m virtually unrecognizable from one role to another. 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.

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.

He made his film debut in 1956 in “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” playing a mobster who tries to persuade boxer Rocky Graziano (Paul Newman) to throw a fight. 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 was nominated for an Emmy in 2000 for a guest appearance on “Malcolm in the Middle.” On the New York stage, in a 1956 off-Broadway production of “The Man With the Golden Arm,” Mr.

He credited his re-emergence to a couple of plays produced by Joseph Papp: “Wedding Band,” with Ruby Dee; and “In the Boom Boom Room,” with Madeline Kahn. Loggia made his Broadway debut in a 1960 production of Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic,” filling a role that had previously been played by Jason Robards Jr. His theater background served him well when he broke into television in the late 1950s, appearing on “Studio One,” “Playhouse 90” and other live dramatic anthology series. Besides his wife, the former Audrey O’Brien, he is survived by three children: Tracy, John and Kristina, from a previous marriage, to Della Marjorie Sloan, and six grandchildren.

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