Hollywood star James Caan, who played 'Sonny' Corleone in The Godfather and starred in Misery and Elf, dies aged 82 - petsitterbank

Hollywood star James Caan, who played ‘Sonny’ Corleone in The Godfather and starred in Misery and Elf, dies aged 82

Hollywood actor James Caan, who starred as gangster Santino “Sonny” Corleone in Oscar-winning film The Godfather, has died aged 82.

Warning: This article contains graphic movie footage which may disturb some readers.

His family said in a statement posted on Twitter that he had passed away on Wednesday evening.

“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time,” said the statement, which was posted on Caan’s official Twitter account.


Caan’s manager, Matt DelPiano, confirmed the news.

“Jimmy was one of the greatest. Not only was he one of the best actors our business has ever seen, he was funny, loyal, caring and beloved,” DelPiano wrote.

“Our relationship was always friendship before business. I will miss him dearly and am proud to have worked with him all these years.”

While Caan had earlier roles that saw his star rise, it was his portrayal of the violent son of gangster Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, that would become the one he was most synonymous with.

James Caan (left) portrayed Sonny Corleone, song of gangster patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in the celebrated 1972 film.(AP: Paramount Pictures)

Having acted earlier in 1969 Francis Ford Coppola film The Rain People, Caan was cast as Sonny in Ford Coppola’s 1972 screen adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather.

Caan’s role in the film is remembered for several scenes but most notably perhaps one where he mercilessly beats his brother-in-law Carlo in a street scene, and Sonny’s death scene, where he is riddled with bullets at a toll booth.

His performance in the classic film, which won Best Picture at the 1972 Academy Awards, saw him act opposite Brando, Al Pacino (Michael Corleone) and Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen).

All were nominated for Oscars, but only Brando won, taking Best Actor.

The other three all failed to pick up the Best Supporting Actor Award, which was won by Joel Gray for his performance in Cabaret.

Well-known for his party lifestyle, Caan quit his acting career abruptly in the early 80s before returning back to the spotlight at the end of the decade.

In the 90s, Caan made a comeback, starring in For the Boys (1991), portraying another gangster in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) and working alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser (1996).

In Elf (2003), a well-known Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell, Caan played Ferrell’s fictional father.

Director Jon Favreau later praised the relationship between Ferrell and Caan as being integral to the movie’s success.

James Caan is pictured in a brown suit with blue shirt, with on his right side in Will Ferrell in dressed as an Elf
Caan starred in Elf as Walter, Will Ferrell’s fictional father.(Credit: New Line Cinema)

Caan never stopped making movies, with one of his final roles being in a film that is in post-production for 2023.

Married four times, he last filed for divorce in 2017.

Caan has 5 children, one of whom also pursued an acting career. Scott Caan starred in Hawaii Five-0, Entourage and Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen.

Celebrities pay tribute to ‘legend’

Tributes from celebrities have begun to pour in, including Misery director Rob Reiner, who wrote he “loved working” with the charismatic actor.

“So sorry to hear the news. I loved working with him. And the only Jew I knew who could calf rope with the best of them. Love to the family.”


Friend and fellow actor Gary Sinise expressed his sadness at the news, writing on social media that he was “heartbroken for his family and friends” and that it had been “wonderful to know him and call him a pal.”


Actor Cary Elwes shared his condolences to Caan’s family.


Caan starred in the hit animation movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 2009 and its sequel in 2013.




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