Martin Scorsese pens emotional tribute to Frank Vincent

Sopranos' actor Frank Vincent dead

Some of his most memorable include Billy Batts in "Goodfellas" and Phil Leotardo - Tony's nemesis - in "The Sopranos".

"Frank Vincent was someone I could count on", he said in a statement.

We're told Vincent suffered a heart attack last week, and underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday.

Frank Vincent, famous for his role in the popular TV show Sopranos, has unfortunately passed away aged 78.

Frank Vincent, whose portrayal of NY mob boss Phil Leotardo made him a mainstay on HBO's The Sopranos, has died.

Born in MA but raised in New Jersey, Vincent originally wanted to have a career in music but switched to acting when he got a role in a low-budget mob movie called The Death Collector alongside another up-and-coming actor named Joe Pesci.

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"Our family will never forget the Leotardo legacy", HBO wrote Wednesday night, posting a photo of Vincent smiling and smoking a cigar.

Said Vincent of Scorsese in a 2011 interview, "Marty has a knack for ... picking people who are really not that well known and to develop them as actors". Longtime friends, Vincent and Gallagher started working together back on 1990's "Street Hunter".

Among those who took note of "The Death Collector" was Martin Scorsese, who cast both Vincent and Pesci in "Raging Bull" (1980), about boxer Jake LaMotta, and, a decade later, "Goodfellas".

Frank Vincent was also known for his work in HBO's iconic television series The Sopranos. He appeared in Raging Bull, Goodfellas - where he played Billy Batts, a made man in the Gambino crime family - and Casino, playing Frank Marino, based on real-life gangster Frank Cullotta.

Vincent, who was well recognized for his tough-guy roles, created an acting career that spanned 41 years.

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