Image of Joe Spinell

Joe Spinell

​Joe Spinell was born Joseph J. Spagnuolo in Manhattan, New York of Italian immigrant parents, and the last of six children. His father, Pelegrino Spagnuolo (b. 1892, d. 1950), died from liver and kidney disease. His mother Filomena Spagnuolo (b. 1903, d. 1987) was a bit-part actress who acted in a few movies, some of them alongside her son. Spinell stood 5 foot and 11 inches. He was born at his family's apartment in Manhattan's Little Italy on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. A few years after the death of his father, he moved with his mother and older siblings to Woodside, Queens, New York where he lived off-and-on for the remainder of his life. Spinell suffered most of his life from hemophilia as well as chronic asthma. Because of his large, heavyset frame and imposing looks, Spinell was often cast as criminals, thugs, or corrupt police officers. His most notable roles were as mafioso Willi Cicci in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and as loan shark Tony Gazzo in Rocky and Rocky II. Although primarily known as a character actor, Spinell co-wrote and starred as a serial killer in the 1980 film, Maniac. Joe Spinell died in his apartment on January 13, 1989 at the age of 52. The cause of his untimely death is arguable to this day. Some say that his death was caused by sudden heart attack due to heavy drug use, drinking and emotional distress in light of his mother passing away two years earlier. It is also speculated that he may have died from asthma complications, or bled to death from hemophilia related causes. He was planning a sequel to Maniac before his death. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens near his home. He is the distant cousin of the American football team St. Louis Ram's Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spinell was married to adult film star Jean Jennings from February 1977 to July 1979. Together they had one daughter, but they eventually divorced.

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Oct 28, 1936 In Manhattan, New York
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie El Padrino 1972-03-14
Latest Project:
Movie The Joe Spinell Story 2001-08-21
Known For
Poster of Turno de noche
Poster of Halcones de la noche
Poster of Star Crash, choque de galaxias
Movie The Joe Spinell Story Himself 2001-08-21
Movie Thriller Zone Vinny Durand (segment "Fanatical Extremes") (archive footage) 1995-01-01
Movie Rapid Fire Hansen 1989-01-01
Movie Operation Warzone Brig. Gen. George Delevane 1988-07-01
Movie The Undertaker Uncle Roscoe 1988-01-01
Movie Casada con todos Leonard 'Tiptoes' Mazzilli 1988-08-19
Movie The Messenger Rico 1986-01-01
Movie Chicos escandalosos Guido Antonucci 1986-08-22
Movie Vigilante Eisenberg 1983-01-04
Movie Al filo de la navaja Brusstar 1983-01-01
Movie The Big Score Mayfield 1983-03-17
Movie The Last Fight Angelo 1983-09-07
Movie Eureka 1983-05-01
Movie National Lampoon's Movie Madness Agent / M.C. ("Success Wanters") 1983-11-02
Movie Turno de noche Manetti 1982-07-30
Movie The Last Horror Film Vinny Durand 1982-10-09
Movie One Down, Two to Go Joe Spangler 1982-11-19
Movie Halcones de la noche Lt. Munafo 1981-03-17
Movie The Little Dragons Yancey 1980-07-18
Movie La novena configuración Lt. Spinell 1980-02-29
Movie A la caza Patrolman DiSimone 1980-09-23
Movie Maniaco Frank Zito 1980-12-26
Movie Muertes de invierno Arthur Fletcher 1979-05-11
Movie Rocky II Tony Gazzo 1979-06-15
Movie El gran miércoles Psychologist 1978-05-02
Movie Nunzio Angelo 1978-05-12
Movie La cocina del infierno Burp 1978-09-22
Movie The One Man Jury Mike Abatino 1978-09-29
Movie Star Crash, choque de galaxias Count Zartharn 1978-12-21
Movie Carga Maldita Spider 1977-06-24
Movie Next Stop, Greenwich Village Cop at El Station 1976-02-04
Movie Taxi Driver Personell Officer 1976-02-08
Movie Rocky Gazzo 1976-11-21
Movie Músculos de acero Jabo 1976-04-23
Movie Crack Sol Terranova 1975-04-12
Movie Vidas sin barreras Mr. Colson 1975-01-01
Movie Adiós, muñeca Nick 1975-08-08
Movie El Padrino. Parte II Willi Cicci 1974-12-20
Movie The Seven-Ups Toredano 1973-01-01
Movie El Padrino Willi Cicci (uncredited) 1972-03-14