Actor James Caan dead at 82

By The Associated Press and Hana Mae Nassar

Actor James Caan, known for his various roles, including that of mobster Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, has died. He was 82.

According to a tweet from his verified account, the award-winning actor passed Wednesday night.

“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time,” the post reads.

No cause of death was given.

“Jimmy was one of the greatest. Not only was he one of the best actors our business has ever seen, he was funny, loyal, caring and beloved,” Caan’s manager, Matt DelPiano, said. “Our relationship was always friendship before business. I will miss him dearly and am proud to have worked with him all these years.”

A football player at Michigan State University and a practical joker on production sets, Caan was a grinning, handsome performer with an athlete’s swagger and muscular build. He managed a long career despite drug problems, outbursts of temper, and minor brushes with the law.

After “Brian’s Song” and “The Godfather,” Caan was one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, appearing in “Hide in Plain Sight” (which he also directed), “Funny Lady” (opposite Barbra Streisand), “The Killer Elite” and Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two,” among others. He also made a brief appearance in a flashback sequence in “The Godfather, Part II.”

But by the early 1980s he began to sour on films. He had begun to struggle with drug use and was devastated by the 1981 leukemia death of his sister, Barbara, who until then had been a guiding force in his career.

He returned to full-fledged stardom opposite Kathy Bates in “Misery” in 1990.

Once again in demand, Caan starred in “For the Boys” with Bette Midler in 1991 as part of a song-and-dance team entertaining U.S. soldiers during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. The following year he played a tongue-in-cheek version of Sonny Corleone in the comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

Other later films included “Flesh and Bone,” “Bottle Rocket” and “Mickey Blue Eyes.” He introduced himself to a new generation playing Walter, the workaholic, stone-faced father of Buddy’s Will Ferrell in “Elf.”

Caan, who was born in New York in 1940, was married four times. He had five children — a daughter and four sons — with Scott Caan following in his father’s footsteps as an actor.

Tributes have already begun pouring in for the 82-year-old, with many taking to social media to share their memories of Caan both on and off the big screen.

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