Sopranos actor Tony Sirico passes away at 79

Tony Sirico played a major role in the HBO drama that started in 1999 and became an influential hit early in the era of prestige television

Actor Tony Sirico, who played the lovable but murderous gangster Paulie Walnuts on the HBO series.

"The Sopranos" and was frequently cast in Woody Allen films, died on Friday at age 79, his family said.

Sirico played a major role in the HBO drama that started in 1999 and became an influential hit early in the era of prestige television.

Though he played smaller parts in six Woody Allen movies from 1994 to 2016, Sirico was not especially well known before his breakout role, in which he was a captain in the crime family of lead character Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini.