Paul Sorvino’s wife tells of her husband’s last days

Late Goodfellas star Paul Sorvino’s wife is opening up about the actor’s final days singing opera and entertaining nurses at a Florida hospital as his health deteriorated.

Fun-loving, warm-hearted Sorvino kept his kidney issues and pneumonia struggles quiet to ‘not upset’ close friends in his final year, his wife Dee Dee revealed during a tribute to her late husband.

In an emotional admission, Dee Dee revealed how Sorvino was the entertainment for staff and patients while bedridden at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, singing opera tunes and telling stories about his career in Tinseltown. Dee Dee reminisced how ‘pretty nurses’ lined up to speak with her famous husband.

She opened up about how the 83-year-old never complained about his diminishing health, which left him wheelchair-bound during the pandemic.

‘At the end it was kind of tough for him. We were at Jacksonville Mayo Clinic,’ she said. ‘That whole hospital fell in love with Paul. Of course everywhere Paul went, everybody fell in love with Big Paulie.

‘When you are sick it is tough to entertain or to be chipper, but he did.’

The New Yorker’s brave and cheery outlook was revealed as Dee Dee spoke at the Celebration Of Life event last week at The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building in Hollywood.

‘Here is Paul in a hospital bed singing opera and everybody hears it all the way down the hall. And everybody comes running. And he is telling stories and all the hot nurses were in the room. No surprise,’ Dee Dee said.

She recalled how ‘every nurse was prettier than the next,’ adding, ‘That is the way it was with Paul. I have no problem with that. It was family there.’

Speaking to the crowd of family and friends, Dee Dee said, ‘Knowing how strong he was at the end, I have to tell you, you all would be proud of him and you would understand the love of the man.

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‘He loved his family, wife, the world, fans, art – this man was the epitome of love. There will never ever be another Paul Sorvino.’

Dee Dee, 55, was Sorvino’s third wife. They married in 2014. She revealed that the Hollywood star, who played Paulie Cicero in the Martin Scorsese film, did not want fans, friends and wider family to worry about him.

‘He did not want anyone to feel bad for him. He wanted to make you feel good. He wanted to make you happy – that was Paul. As he was suffering he would not complain. He didn’t want anybody to know.’

Sorvino embraced a move to rural Madison, Indiana, during the pandemic, where he was treated like royalty, Dee Dee explained.

‘Madison is this little town which is beautiful and he loved it. At that time Paul was in a wheelchair.

‘He did not want anybody to know he was sick or had any problems and he had to get dialysis. That was really a tough thing to do.

She explained that after he got his second dose of the Covid vaccine, he had adverse side effects and would get pneumonia on and off for a year.

During that time he was cast in Godfather Of Harlem.

‘Like a trooper, he went [to film]and they let him do it in a wheelchair. Big Paulie could sit in a chair,’ Dee Dee said.

‘There was no problem with his acting, tough to get around and maybe he wasn’t feeling well, but nobody knew it. I knew it. That was the great Paul Sorvino,’ she said.

Opera-loving Sorvino, famed for bursting into song on film and TV sets, passed away on July 25.

Goodfellas co-star Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese gave touching tributes via video during the event at The Hollywood Museum.

De Niro said: ‘I want to say my goodbyes to Paul. He was someone I met in my mid-20s when every actor in New York was reading for the Godfather 1. Paul and I read for the casting director.

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We did an improv and I was so impressed with what he had done after we did it I told him ”You were great” and he said ”You were great.”

‘We were a mutual complimenting society. But he was [great].

‘It made such an impression on me all those years ago.

‘Then we finally worked together on Goodfellas. We didn’t really have any scenes together, but we did the poster.

‘Paul was a great guy. It is always very sad when someone like him leaves us. See you up there Paul,’ De Niro said.

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese praised ‘wonderful man’ Sorvino, adding he’s upset at not having worked with him on other projects.

‘How to talk about Paul? He is a consummate actor who brought something so precious and irreplaceable to my film Goodfellas and actually taught me a great deal in the process,’ Scorcese said.

‘It seemed a natural connection for Paulie in Goodfellas and I remember begging him to do the part.

‘I must say working with him, Paul never settled for less than the deeper emotional truth. I learned a lot from him.

‘At that point it was 1989 and we were just getting used to video assist.

‘Sometimes, because it was such a crazy schedule, I found myself seated behind that video monitor and he was doing one scene with Ray Liotta in which he had to reject him.

‘I said ”just a little more emotion” and we tried it again and a third time. And finally he came up to me and said, ”Come and watch me, come to where the camera is, don’t watch the video and you will see.”

‘And sure enough, looking directly at him, you could see the emotion in his eyes, tears welling up. I realized he had the scene down.

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‘It was a great lesson that contact, emotion and creative contact, (was important) and not relying on the technology.

‘Actors like Paul are few and far between. He was a consummate actor. I’ll never forget you.’

The foyer of the Hollywood Museum featured a tribute to Sorvino.

Actor Joe Mantegna attended and spoke in front of 300 friends, family and colleagues.

Dee Dee presented miniature urns to Paul’s three children, five grandchildren, and brother.

The main urn with Paul’s ashes will be interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.

Dee Dee also spoke about a raft of her husband’s achievements from writing a best selling book, inspiring children to read, and loving being ‘a chick magnet.’

During visits to Italy, Dee Dee laughed at how locals saw him as a home grown hero: ‘You would have thought Elvis came back to life. Everywhere we went people ran after Paulie.’

MC Roger Neal recalled how Sorvino told him that he knew Dee Dee was the ‘one’ when on their first meeting an orb of light shone from above her head.

During the moving event, the American Legion honored Sorvino and prayers were given by Fr. Darren Malino.

Artist Mario Della Casa presented to Dee Dee a one-of-a-kind painting of Paul.

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