Paul Herman, Mainstay of Gangster Movies, Dies at 76

Paul Herman, who put in appearances as wiseguys and schlemiels in movies like Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and “Casino” and three seasons of “The Sopranos,” died on Tuesday, his 76th birthday.

His manager, T Keaton-Woods, confirmed the death in a statement but did not specify the cause or say where Mr. Herman died.

Over a four-decade career, Mr. Herman was perhaps best known for his role on “The Sopranos” as Peter Gaeta, known as Beansie, the owner of pizza parlors who gets in trouble with a mobster — his travails include being hit on the head with a pot of hot coffee — but who manages to re-establish himself.

Mr. Herman also appeared for five seasons on another beloved HBO series, “Entourage,” as an accountant who pleads unsuccessfully with his celebrity client to be less of a wastrel.

He frequently played unnamed characters in the roughly half-dozen films by Mr. Scorsese in which he appeared, but in the director’s most recent feature, “The Irishman,” he had a more notable part: Whispers DiTullio, who, like Beansie, is a businessman involved with the Mafia who angers the wrong people and comes to grief.

Mr. Herman’s dozens of other film credits include such crime-themed movies as “The Cotton Club” (1984), “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), “Heat” (1995) and “American Hustle” (2013), a screwball comedy about political corruption for which he and other members of the cast shared a Screen Actors Guild Award.

“The only one who ever gave me the chance to play a saint is Marty,” Mr. Herman told The New York Times in 1989, referring to his role as Philip the Apostle in Mr. Scorsese’s 1988 film, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

Paul Herman was born on March 29, 1946, in Brooklyn. His movie career got going with “Dear Mr. Wonderful,” a 1982 West German film about working-class life in Newark and New York City that featured Joe Pesci in his first starring role.

From there, Mr. Herman made a specialty of using his haggard but trusting mug to play bit characters like a burglar (in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days”), a headwaiter (in another Allen film, “Bullets Over Broadway”) and a bartender (in Sondra Locke’s “Trading Favors”), along with a motley assortment of gangsters.

Information on survivors was not immediately available. Mr. Herman had homes in New York and Santa Monica, Calif.

Offscreen, he was known for being friendly and well connected. “If you visited NYC from LA, he was the entertainment director,” the actor Tony Danza said on Twitter after his death.

The music executive Tommy Mottola posted an undated black-and-white photo on Instagram of Mr. Herman sitting at a restaurant between young versions of Robert De Niro and the actress and the director Penny Marshall, who died in 2018. Mr. Mottola said Mr. Herman had been on a “first name basis with every superstar actor and musician in the world.”

Mr. Herman was a part owner of the now closed but once buzzy Upper West Side restaurant Columbus, where one evening in 1989, sitting beside Al Pacino, he told The Times that he served as the nightly “social director.” The restaurant’s patrons included Mr. Scorsese, Mr. Allen and Francis Ford Coppola — all friends who had cast him in their movies over the years.

Those three men had very different directing styles, Mr. Herman told The Times in 1989.

With Mr. Scorsese and Mr. Coppola, “you can give them your ideas on a scene,” he said. “But with Woody, well, you just don’t do that with him because he has ideas he’s working out. You really can’t say one style is better than another, though.”

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