Paul Sorvino Biography


Paul Sorvino BiographyClaim to Fame: Actor (Goodfellas and Romeo + Juliet)
DOB: April 13, 1939
Diabetes Type: 2

Owing his stardom to fearsome mafia thugs or broad-shouldered, frustrated detectives, Paul Sorvino is anything but a stock character. The gentle, soft-spoken actor is a shocking departure from Paul Cicero, the cruel mafia boss in Goodfellas. In reality, the actor, father, and businessman is rather shy, less inclined to talk about the roles that made him famous than he is about his daughter, actress Mira Sorvino, or his food business, Paul Sorvino Foods, Inc.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Paul grew up with the dream of being a singer. The only son of Italian Immigrant parents, Paul spent most of his youth playing the piano with his mother and listening to the sounds of Mario Lanza and Enrico Caruso, studying the lyrics and matching the pitch of his voice with the Italian crooners. Paul had a natural talent for singing and, after attending Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, went on to study music at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhatten. Upon graduating in 1962, Paul found work as a performer for charities, using the stage name, Val Sorvino, which he believed sounded more credible. In 1964, after more than a few successful performances, Paul made his first Broadway appearance in the Ernest Kinoy play Bajour. Though his role was minor, his performance was solid and won him significant praise.

Paul took a break from performing to pursue a career as vice president of an advertising agency. Fascinated by the business world, Paul stayed away from acting for six years, returning to appear as a minor character in the 1970 film Where's Poppa? Two years later, after appearing in a number of other plays as minor characters, Paul received remarkable acclaim for portraying Phil Romano in the Jason Miller play, That Championship Season, a role he would reprise for a 1982 TV movie. In 1976, Paul tried his hand at directing and managed a stage production of Louis La Rosso II's Wheelbarrow Closers, starring Danny Aiello. The play was a hit and Paul received tremendous acclaim, with many surprised by Paul's arsenal of talents. No longer just a run-of-the-mill actor, Paul had established himself as a bona fide Renaissance man.

The 70's brought Paul a series of television roles, beginning with an appearance on the show Welcome Mat.  The show proved to be a launch pad for the actor, propelling him to a larger role in the show Bert D'Angelo/Superstar and a spot in the TV movie Dummy, playing the role of Lowell Myers. True to character, Paul maintained a steady stage presence while appearing on television, working both areas of entertainment and planning on broadening his film career. 

In 1990, Paul starred in his most memorable film role: portraying Paul Cicero in the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas. Scorsese's film brought Paul accolades and the attention of Oliver Stone. Paul went on to be cast as Henry Kissinger in the 1995 film Nixon. He would also appear in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film, Romeo + Juliet, playing the role of Fulgencio Capulet, Juliet's father, as well as Phil Ceretta, NYPD Sergeant, in the NBC television series Law & Order.

In 2007, Paul launched Paul Sorvino Foods, Inc., a company that specializes in pasta sauces and Italian fare. Paul, having grown up eating pastas and meals loaded with carbohydrates, was devastated when he learned he had type 2 diabetes. Not the type of person to wallow, Paul quickly re-evaluated his entire diet and adopted a "diabetes friendly" approach to eating. In a 2010 interview with Diabetes Forecast Magazine, he stated, "I don't eat bad things. Luckily there is a low-carb pasta available, which for Italian-Americans is a real boon. If they can't eat pasta, their whole lifestyle becomes difficult." A combination of strict adherence to medications, diet, and exercise, Paul has learned to view his diabetes as a positive force in his life, instead of as an overwhelming negative, stating, "If you can accept the responsibility of taking care of your own blood sugar, you can be very healthy. Not every ill comes to destroy you. It can make you healthier."

In an attempt to provide more diet options for people with diabetes, Paul Sorvino Foods, Inc., is developing a tasty, low-carb alternative to pastas and other traditionally high carbohydrate foods. Paul and daughter, Mira, have worked together to educate others on the dangers of type 2 diabetes, on diet and the various medications available, and to depend on one another for support, stating, "Don't be afraid that you're burdening them. This is a problem. That's what families are for. Diabetes can be a formidable enemy if you don't take the right steps."

Find more entertainers with diabetes.

Reviewed by dLife staff 12/13.

Last Modified Date: January 02, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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