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Frank Vincent, the actor who played one of the most memorable villains on television in The Sopranos, has died aged 78.

His family said he died peacefully on Wednesday, with his manager Melissa Prophet adding in a statement that Vincent “lived life on his terms, creating a dynamic and successful path in every endeavour he chose”.

“His generosity and spirit extended beyond his family and closest friends, as he strived to promote new talent in the performing arts,” she said.

According to website TMZ, the veteran actor died from post-op complications in a New Jersey hospital, following open-heart surgery.

Vincent was known for his mafioso roles in several films including Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and Casino.

But his most iconic role was as New York’s main man Phil Leotardo in HBO’s flagship show The Sopranos.

“Our family will never forget the Leotardo Legacy. RIP to an HBO legend,” the network wrote on Twitter.

Fellow actor Michael Rapaport tweeted about Vincent’s portrayal of Billy Batts in Scorsese’s 1990 gangster flick Goodfellas.

“Damn the Great Frank Vincent has passed Consummate NYC actor from Goodfellas,Raging Bull & Sopranos.Good guy who had a great sense of humour,” he wrote.

“One time he let me get my shinebox in 94,” he added, recalling Vincent’s most famous line in the film, where he tells Joe Pesci’s character to “go home and get your f****** shine box”.

Others recalled his on-screen feud with the late James Gandolfini’s character Tony Soprano in the final season of the show.

“I will really miss Frank Vincent and I still really miss the other guy,” one user wrote, sharing a photo of the two actors.

“RIP Phil Leotardo. Now go settle the score with Tony,” said another.

Maureen Van Zandt, wife of Sopranos star Steve Van Zandt, also shared a message, writing: “We lost one of our family today. Frank Vincent. Wonderful actor and lovely man. Rest In Peace, Frankie.”

Vincent’s film credits also include The Pope of Greenwich Village and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

He is survived by his widow Katherine, daughters Debra and Maria, son Anthony, two grandchildren and three siblings, Ms Prophet said.

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