James Caan, of 'Godfather' fame, has died, family announces

The actor was 82.

July 7, 2022, 2:43 PM

James Caan, the prolific actor known for his role in "The Godfather" films, has died, his family said Thursday.

Caan died at the age of 82 on Wednesday, his family announced on Twitter.

"The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time."

They did not mention a cause of death.

In this Sept. 14, 2010, file photo, actor James Caan poses for a portrait during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto.
Matt Carr/Getty Images, FILE

Caan may be best known for his role as Sonny Corleone in the 1972 classic "The Godfather," which earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor and the Golden Globe for best supporting actor. He briefly reprised the role in "The Godfather Part II" in 1974.

His decadeslong film career began in the 1960s, with starring roles in the Howard Hawks' films "Red Line 7000" and "El Dorado."

Caan's turn as a dying football player in the 1971 TV movie "Brian's Song" earned him an Emmy nomination. He worked steadily in film throughout the 1970s, including in the films "A Bridge Too Far," "The Gambler" and "Funny Lady," the latter two earning him Golden Globe nominations.

After a break from acting for several years in the 1980s, Caan had a memorable turn as a bedridden writer opposite Kathy Bates' obsessed fan in the 1990 thriller, "Misery."

Caan also had notable performances in the films "The Yards," "Dogville" and "Elf."

He most recently appeared in the 2021 romantic comedy, "Queen Bees."

People take pictures of the late actor James Caan's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, July 7, 2022.
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Caan was married four times and is survived by five children, including the actor Scott Caan.

Tributes to the legendary actor immediately followed news of his death.

"Was lucky enough, after a lifetime of loving his work, to get to work with him and I loved him as a person even more," comedian Andy Richter said. "Funny, warm, self-deprecating, and effortlessly talented. They say never meet your heroes, but he proved that to be very very wrong."

Rob Reiner, who directed Caan in "Misery," said, "I loved working with him. And the only Jew I knew who could calf rope with the best of them. Love to the family."

Christopher Miller, co-director of the 2009 animated film "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," which featured the voice work of Caan, called the actor an "absolute king."

"He brought a pathos and authenticity to the role of Tim Lockwood that held the film together. RIP to a legend," Miller said.

Many shared their favorite performances and scenes by Caan.

"James Caan swooping in during the flashback scene at the end of The Godfather Part II is one of the all-time great star reveals," actor James Urbaniak said. "You can practically hear the audience cheering. RIP to a real one."

"Goodbye to James Caan, who was rugged but sensitive, able to convey vulnerability in the same frame as barely contained rage, and never better than in Karel Reisz's 1974 Dostoevsky adaptation The Gambler, one of the best films ever made about that particular addiction," Slate film critic Dana Stevens said.

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