Tony Lo Bianco, “The French Connection ”and “The Honeymoon Killers” actor, dies at 87

Lo Bianco made his final onscreen appearance in Ray Romano's 2022 romcom, "Somewhere in Queens."

Tony Lo Bianco, who starred as mobster Sal Boca in William Friedkin’s Oscar-winning film The French Connection, has died. He was 87.

Lo Bianco died Tuesday night at his Maryland residence after a battle with prostate cancer, his representative confirmed to Fox News. Alyse Muldoon, his wife of nine years, was at his side.

A representative for Lo Bianco did not immediately respond to Entertainment Weekly’s request for comment.

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<p>Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty</p> Tony Lo Bianco

Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty

Tony Lo Bianco

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Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 19, 1936, Lo Bianco was inspired to pursue acting as a teenager by his high school drama teacher.

Originally an athlete, Lo Bianco participated in his first Golden Gloves boxing match at 15 and in the ‘50s, tried out for a spot on the Brooklyn Dodgers roster. While he didn’t make the cut, he continued his dramatic pursuits and landed a gig starring opposite Gene Hackman in The French Connection.

The Friedkin-directed film would go on to win Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, with critics praising Lo Bianco’s performance as the gritty mobster, Sal. He also earned acclaim for leading The Honeymoon Killers as one of the notorious "lonely hearts killers," Raymond Fernandez. He starred opposite Shirley Stoler in the 1970 film, which has since been reclaimed as a cult classic.

“For Honeymoon Killers, they wanted to cast a guy with a Spanish accent,” Lo Bianco told La Nostra Voce in a 2023 interview. “I’m Italian American, but I took on a Spanish accent and landed the role. Everybody thought it was genuine, then they heard my real voice one day on set, they couldn’t believe it.”

<p>20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy of Everett </p> Tony Lo Bianco in 'The French Connection'

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy of Everett

Tony Lo Bianco in 'The French Connection'

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Lo Bianco went on to appear in over 100 films, including Bloodbrothers with Richard Gere, City Heat with Clint Eastwood, and Kill the Irishman with Ray Stevenson. His final film was the 2022 Ray Romano-directed comedy, Somewhere in Queens.

On television, Lo Bianco took on the role of undefeated heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano in Marciano, and again in the remake, The Rocky Marciano Story. Additionally, he appeared in Marco Polo, Jesus of Nazareth, La Romana, episodes of Law & Order, and Murder, She Wrote.

Lo Bianco also took to the stage, earning a Tony Award nomination in 1983 for his performance as Eddie Carbone in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

Reflecting on his career in 2023, he said, “I’ve worn a lot of faces, and to me, acting was always about human connection — it’s the only thing that matters.”

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