Saturday, December 5, 2015


Robert Loggia, an Oscar-nominated actor who was known for portraying gravelly-voiced gangsters in “Scarface” and “The Sopranos,” but who played against type as a kid-at-heart toy-company boss opposite Tom Hanks in “Big,” died Dec. 4 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 85.

His wife, Audrey Loggia, said he died after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

With a rugged face and rough voice, Mr. 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.

He played wise guys in David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” (1997), the spoofs “Innocent Blood” (1992) and “Armed and Dangerous” (1986), and again on David Chase’s HBO series “The Sopranos,” as the previously jailed veteran mobster Michele “Feech” La Manna.

It was not as a gangster but as a seedy detective that Mr. Loggia received his only Academy Award nomination, as supporting actor in “Jagged Edge.” In the 1985 film, which starred Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges, he played gumshoe Sam Ransom, who investigates a murder.

 Mr. Loggia gave an endearing comic performance in Penny Marshall’s “Big” (1988), dancing with Tom Hanks on a giant piano keyboard.

Hanks played an adolescent granted a wish to be big, becoming a 30-something man overnight who — still mentally a boy — eventually finds work at a toy company run by Mr. Loggia’s character. 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.

Mr. Loggia also appeared in five movies directed by Blake Edwards, including three “Pink Panther” films and the dark comedy “S.O.B.” (1981). He also portrayed Joseph, husband of Mary, in George Stevens’s 1965 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. So I never wear out my welcome.”

In 1966, Mr. Loggia had a rare opportunity for stardom, taking the lead role in the NBC television drama “T.H.E. Cat.” He played a former circus aerialist and cat burglar who guarded clients in danger of being murdered. When the series was canceled after one season, Mr. Loggia largely dropped out of the business for a time.

“I didn’t want to work,” he recalled in a 1986 interview. “I was played out, and I had to re-spark myself.”

His marriage had broken up, and he devoted himself to travel and skiing. 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.

Among his later roles, Mr. Loggia played a general and presidential adviser in the 1996 sci-fi thriller “Independence Day.”

In 2003, he appeared in four episodes of HBO’s “The Sopranos,” as gangster Feech La Manna, who was released from prison and sought to return to the Mafia. Tony Soprano worried about La Manna’s uncontrollable temper and tricked him into violating his parole.

Salvatore Loggia was born Jan. 3, 1930, on Staten Island. The son of Sicilian immigrants, he grew up in Manhattan’s Little Italy section.

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 appeared on “Studio One,” “Playhouse 90” and other live dramatic series in the 1950s, then made his stage debut off-Broadway in 1956 in “The Man With the Golden Arm,” appearing in the title role of a drug addict, played in the movie by Frank Sinatra.

Mr. Loggia’s Broadway debut came in 1964 with the Actors Studio production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters,” which then toured to London.

His film debut came in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956), playing mobster Frankie Peppo, who tries to persuade boxer Rocky Graziano (Paul Newman) to throw a fight. He made movies until the end...

No comments:

Post a Comment