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 The Godfather 1972-03-14
Latest Project:
Movie 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic 2020-06-09
Known For
Poster of Deadly Illusion
Poster of Rocky
Poster of Taxi Driver
Poster of The Godfather Part II
Movie 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic Self (archive footage) 2020-06-09
Movie FantastiCozzi Count Zarth Arn (archive footage) 2016-05-21
Movie Exorcising 'Cruising' Self (archive footage) 2007-09-18
Movie The History of 'Cruising' Self (archive footage) 2007-09-18
Movie The Joe Spinell Story (archive footage) 2001-08-21
Movie The American Nightmare Self 2000-09-11
Movie Thriller Zone Vinny Durand (segment "Fanatical Extremes") (archive footage) 1995-01-01
Movie Rapid Fire Hansen 1989-01-01
Movie The Undertaker Uncle Roscoe 1988-11-01
Movie K.O. Kippers Tony Larosa 1988-08-13
Movie Operation Warzone Brig. Gen. George Delevane 1988-07-01
Movie Married to the Mob Leonard 'Tiptoes' Mazzilli 1988-08-19
Movie The Pick-up Artist Eddie 1987-09-18
Movie Deadly Illusion Crazy Man in Gun Bureau 1987-10-16
Movie The Children of Times Square Street Vendor 1986-03-03
Movie The Whoopee Boys Guido Antonucci 1986-08-22
Movie Hollywood Harry Max Caldwell 1986-10-03
Movie Blood Ties Joey, New York Goon #1 1986-12-14
Movie The Messenger Rico 1986-12-01
Movie Mr. Robbie: Maniac II Mr. Robbie 1986-11-01
Movie Walking the Edge Brusstar 1985-01-11
Movie Out of the Darkness Jim Halsey 1985-10-12
Movie Eureka Pete 1983-05-01
Movie The Big Score Mayfield 1983-03-17
Movie The Last Fight Angelo 1983-09-07
Movie Trackdown: Finding the Goodbar Killer Escobar 1983-10-15
Movie Vigilante Eisenberg 1982-05-18
Movie National Lampoon's Movie Madness Agent / M.C. ("Success Wanters") 1982-04-23
Movie Night Shift Manetti 1982-07-30
Movie A Question of Honor Masked witness (uncredited) 1982-04-28
Movie The Last Horror Film Vinny Durand 1982-08-12
Movie One Down, Two to Go Joe Spangler 1982-11-19
Movie Monsignor Bride's Father 1982-10-22
Movie Losin' It Border Patrolman 1982-08-20
Movie Nighthawks Lt. Munafo 1981-03-17
Movie Portrait of a Teenage Shoplifter Door Guard 1981-12-01
Movie The Godfather 1901–1959: The Complete Epic William "Willie" Cicci 1981-03-24
Movie Maniac Frank Zito 1980-05-10
Movie The Ninth Configuration Lt. Spinell 1980-02-29
Movie Cruising Patrolman DiSimone 1980-02-15
Movie Nightside Michael Vincent 1980-06-08
Movie Forbidden Zone Drunken Sailor 1980-03-15
Movie Brubaker Floyd Birdwell 1980-06-20
Movie The First Deadly Sin Charles Lipsky 1980-10-03
Movie Melvin and Howard Go-Go Club Owner #2 (uncredited) 1980-09-19
Movie The Little Dragons Yancey 1980-07-18
Movie Last Embrace Man in Cantina 1979-05-04
Movie Winter Kills Arthur Fletcher 1979-05-11
Movie Vampire Capt. Desher 1979-10-07
Movie Rocky II Tony Gazzo 1979-06-15
Movie Big Wednesday Psychologist 1978-05-26
Movie Nunzio Angelo 1978-05-10
Movie Paradise Alley Burp 1978-09-22
Movie The One Man Jury Mike Abatino 1978-09-29
Movie Starcrash Count Zartharn 1978-12-21
Movie Sorcerer Spider 1977-06-24
Series Mario Puzo's The Godfather: The Complete Novel for Television William "Willie" Cicci 1977-11-12
Movie Next Stop, Greenwich Village Cop 1976-02-04
Movie Taxi Driver Personnel Officer 1976-02-09
Movie Rocky Tony Gazzo 1976-11-21
Movie Stay Hungry Jabo 1976-04-23
Movie Rancho Deluxe Mr. Colson 1975-03-14
Movie Strike Force Sol Terranova 1975-04-12
Movie The Ransom of Red Chief Bill 1975-11-01
Movie 92 in the Shade Ollie Slatt 1975-08-22
Movie Farewell, My Lovely Nick 1975-08-08
Movie The Godfather Part II William 'Willie' Cicci 1974-12-20
Movie The Seven-Ups Toredano 1973-12-14
Movie Cops and Robbers Marty 1973-08-15
Movie The Godfather Willi Cicci (uncredited) 1972-03-14