James Caan, ‘The Godfather’ Actor, Dies At Age 82

Actor James Caan, known for his roles in “The Godfather” and other films over a long career, has died at the age of 82, his family confirmed on Thursday.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of Jimmy’s passing on the evening of July 6th,” said a pronunciation posted on the late actor’s Twitter page. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

Born in 1940 in Queens, New York, Caan has worked in Hollywood for over 60 years. He began in his 20s after transferring from Michigan State University to Hofstra University, when he began guest-starring in TV dramas such as “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.”

When he was 26, Caan appeared in the 1966 western “El Dorado” alongside legends John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. The role launched his career, leading to additional projects such as ‘Brian’s Song’, a TV movie about a terminally ill football player.

Caan eventually landed the role of a lifetime: Sonny Corleone in the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola film ‘The Godfather’. His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Making “The Godfather”


After the success of ‘The Godfather’, Caan starred in such films as ‘The Gambler’, ‘Rollerball’, ‘Thief’ and ‘Misery’. He also reprized his role as Sonny in a flashback scene in ‘The Godfather II’.

In the 1980s, Caan said he became depressed and drug addicted while coping with the loss of his sister to leukemia.

“I had a bad period with cocaine for a while,” he said CBS “Sunday Morning” in an interview in 2021. “I lost my sister when it happened. And she was like, I don’t know, when I lost her, I couldn’t, I couldn’t handle it, I didn’t know what to do. “

James Caan
Actor James Caan arrives for the “The Godfather” premiere for the 50th Anniversary premiere held at the Paramount Theater in Hollywood, California, on February 22, 2022.

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

Caan won a new generation of fans when he starred in the Christmas movie “Elf” in 2003, as Walter Hobbs, the biological father of Buddy the Elf who must learn the true meaning of Christmas and family. He said he originally said no to Will Ferrell’s request to star in the film, but eventually changed his mind.

He also won praise for his portrayal of a casino boss on the TV series “Las Vegas.”

“I’ve always fought to never be the same person,” Caan told CBS’s “Sunday Morning.” “I mean, the fun of being an actor is being someone else for three months, you know?”

Direct talk from James Caan


He had no intention of slowing down and was still continuing his work in Hollywood, including hopefully playing a “real character.”

“I can’t take it easy,” he said. “I like to work. I like to work with good people. I have more fun when I’m working, because I get to know new people, and especially good people, you know? Really good – always in some, you You know, some things there are a few people you meet, and that’s a lot – I laugh a lot and sometimes I get respect too.”

Celebrities who starred alongside Caan shared a tribute to the star on Thursday.

“Jimmy was my fictional brother and my lifelong friend,” Al Pacino, who starred in “The Godfather,” said in a statement according to the Associated Press. “It’s hard to believe he won’t be in the world anymore because he was so vibrant and daring. A great actor, a brilliant director and my dear friend. I loved him, I’m going to miss him.”

Robert De Niro, who starred in “The Godfather: Part II,” said in a statement “very saddened to hear of Jimmy’s passing.”

“Team members and friends to the end. RIP Jimmy,” Billy Dee Williams from “Brian’s Song” tweeted

Andy Richter, who appeared in “Eleven”, said he was “shocked” by Caan’s death.

“Had the good fortune, after loving his job for a lifetime, to work with him and I loved him even more as a person,” he said. tweeted† “Funny, warm, self-deprecating and effortlessly talented. They say you never meet your heroes, but he proved that very wrong.”

Caan’s co-star in “Funny Lady,” Barbra Streisand, tweeted that he was “so talented”.

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