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Danny Aiello, 'Do The Right Thing' and 'Moonstruck' actor, dead at 86

Actor Danny Aiello first broke into the movie business in the 1970s, with a small role in the Robert De Niro film 'Bang the Drum Slowly.'
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, file photo, actor Danny Aiello smiles while being photographed in New York.

Veteran stage and film actor Danny Aiello has died at the age of 86, according to his agent. 

His literary agent, Jennifer DeChiara, confirmed to Fox News and NBC News that Aiello passed away Thursday night. She described Aiello as a dear friend and a "rare talent who triumped over incredible odds to become one of our greatest actors."

Aiello is best known for his roles in "Do the Right Thing," "Moonstruck" and "The Godfather: Part II." 

He kicked off his movie career in the early 1970s with a small role in the Robert De Niro film "Bang the Drum Slowly." 

According to TMZ, the actor's family said that Aiello died at a medical facility in New Jersey where he was being treated for a sudden illness. TMZ reported 

Aiello gained critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for playing "Sal" the pizza guy in Spike Lee's 1989 film "Do the Right Thing." 

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Monday, June 29, 2009, file photo, director Spike Lee, right, and actor Danny Aiello attend a special 20th anniversary screening of "Do the Right Thing," in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)

Spike Lee paid tribute to Aiello by posting several pictures on Instagram Friday morning of him and the actor. 

"Just Found Out My Brother DANNY AIELLO Made His Transition Last Night. Danny,We Made Cinema History Together With DO THE RIGHT THING. May You Rest In PARADISE."

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