Suzanne Shepherd, Goodfellas and Sopranos actress, dies at 89
"Sopranos" and "Goodfellas" actress Suzanne Shepherd dies at 89. She also had a successful career as a New York acting teacher.
Suzanne Shepherd, a talented and renowned actress who was best known for her roles as tough and overbearing "mob moms" in "The Sopranos" and "Goodfellas," has passed away at the age of 89.
According to her daughter Kate, Shepherd passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home on Friday morning. While the cause of her death has not been announced, she had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease before her passing.
The news of Shepherd's passing has led to an outpouring of tributes from her colleagues and fans. "Sopranos" actor Ray Abruzzo took to Instagram to express his sadness, describing Shepherd as "a force of nature" and an exceptional actress and teacher.
Shepherd had a long and successful career as an acting teacher in New York, but it was her role in "Goodfellas" in 1990 that introduced her to a wider audience. Her portrayal of the domineering mother of Lorraine Bracco's character in the film left a lasting impression on audiences.
In a 2021 interview on the "Talking Sopranos" podcast, Shepherd recalled her memorable audition for the role, where she impressed director Martin Scorsese with her performance. She later went on to play another memorable "mob mom" in "The Sopranos" as Carmela Soprano's disagreeable mother, Mary DeAngelis.
David Chase, the creator of "The Sopranos," had initially considered Shepherd for the role of Tony Soprano's mother, Livia, but ultimately cast Nancy Marchand. However, when he needed someone to portray Carmela Soprano's mother, Shepherd was the perfect choice.
Born on October 31, 1934, Shepherd initially pursued a career in acting after graduating from Bennington College. In the 1970s, she transitioned to teaching and went on to work with numerous A-list actors and Oscar winners, including Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, and Julia Roberts.
In addition to her teaching, Shepherd also had a successful career as a director, working on plays both on and off Broadway. Her work included directing "Master Harold...and the Boys," which starred James Earl Jones.
Shepherd's talent and versatility also led to numerous opportunities on screen, and she appeared in a variety of movies and TV shows, including "Law & Order," "Lolita," "Requiem for a Dream," and "Blue Bloods."
Suzanne Shepherd's legacy as a gifted actress and teacher will continue to be remembered and celebrated by her colleagues, students, and fans. Her contributions to the entertainment industry have left an indelible mark, and she will be greatly missed.