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Paul Sorvino was honored Wednesday night during a celebration of life at the Hollywood Museum.
The actor passed away on July 25 from natural causes. His death was announced by his wife Dee Dee Sorvino and his longtime representative Roger Neal.
Dee Dee, Joe Mantegna and Lainie Kazan spoke to Fox News Digital about the kind of man the “Goodfellas” actor was, at his celebration of life.
“When I say Renaissance man, I mean it because he was a great sculptor, a great painter,” Dee Dee said. “You know, and then there was that acting thing that he did so well. Singer. I mean, we would go out to dinner, and he’d always just burst out in song and make everyone so happy. And that’s what he always wanted to do.”
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“He always wanted to make people happy. And that’s why we’re having a celebration of life. A celebration of life. Not a sad affair, sad enough,” she continued. “But he wanted people to be happy even now, during life and after death.”
“Paul was the ultimate movie star, the ultimate Renaissance man performer, but ultimately the best human being that’s ever walked this Earth.”
Dee Dee and Paul met on Fox Business” “Cavuto.” Neil Cavuto has long taken the credit for fixing up Dee Dee and Paul, and she would agree with him.
“So, he was on the Neil Cavuto show and I took his seat. Then I came into the green room and he started stalking me. And it worked because at Fox you go next door to Del Friscos. He said, ‘Let’s get a drink. Oh, well, maybe let’s get dinner.’ And then, you know, then we got married,” she recalled.
“So, the man was right. And I’m glad he said, ‘That’s for me,’ not even ‘She’s for me.’ He told his friends, ‘That’s for me.'”
Paul starred in over 200 movies, but his favorites were “The Rocketeer,” “Money Talks, “Mambo Italiano” and “Dummy.”
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Of course, Paul is best known for his role in “Goodfellas,” and Dee Dee explained to Fox News Digital that the role “brought the community together.”
“With ‘Goodfellas,’ what was nice, it kind of brought the community together because we would be at a restaurant and people would go, ‘Hey, hey, Big Paulie, Big Paulie, here’s some garlic.’ I’m not kidding,” Dee Dee recalled.
“They’d run to the CVS, they’d have the garlic there with a razor blade, and they would think they were so original with that. And it happened like once a month,” she added. “But Paul said because they felt like they knew Big Paulie, you know, and they were familiar with him. They loved him like Big Paulie, Uncle Paulie. It made him very happy that people felt like they knew him.”
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Paul was also remembered by Joe Mantegna as someone who was so much more than an actor.
“He was so much more than what the public, you know, may have known him best for,” Mantegna told Fox News Digital. “And I think that’s important. So, I think just the fact that he was just, you know, everybody knew him as the actor that he was. But there was so much more to him.”
Mantegna revealed his fondest memory of Paul was when the actor would come into his wife’s restaurant and sing, calling it “free entertainment.”
“My Big Fat Wedding” star Lainie Kazan recalled first meeting Paul when she was 17 and revealed she was his first girlfriend. She described the actor as a “big-hearted, wonderful, big, lusty, extraordinary man.”
The two worked for the Group of Ford and GROSS Organization at the time they met.
“We fell in love that summer, and it was a glorious couple of months,” Kazan told Fox News Digital. “And we stayed friends the rest of our lives.”
Kazan and Paul later starred in films together, including “Love Is All There Is” and “Divorce Invitation.”
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Paul is survived by his wife Dee Dee, his three adult children, Mira, Amanda and Michael, and five grandchildren.
In his over 50 years in the entertainment business, Paul was a mainstay in films and television, playing an Italian American communist in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and mob boss Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer.”
He would often say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters, his real passions were poetry, painting and opera.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.