Caridi had been in a coma at Cedars-Sinai at the time of his death

By Eric Todisco
May 29, 2019 03:29 PM
Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Carmine Caridi, best known for his role as Carmine Rosato in The Godfather: Part II, has died at age 85. TMZ first reported the news on Wednesday.

The actor died on Tuesday, and had been in a coma at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

He remains one of only three actors to play two different roles in the Godfather film franchise, as he portrayed Albert Volpe in the third film, who is killed at a hotel in Atlantic City.

His character in the second film, Carmine Rosato, was heavily involved in the feud with Frank Pentangeli (Michael Gazzo).

Additional movie roles for Caridi included Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park (1978), Havana (1990) and Ruby (1977).

He also appeared in several television shows, such as ’70s sitcom Phyllis and NYPD Blue from 1993-1999.

Caridi was also involved in a controversy in 2004, when The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences discovered screeners of movies on the internet that they traced back to the actor.

The FBI opened an investigation, finding that for at least three years, Caridi had been sharing screeners of his films in attempt to gain consideration for Academy Awards.

RELATED: The Godfather Actor Carmine Caridi Says He Was Thrown Out of the Academy for Sharing VHS Screeners

“Let me tell you something,” Caridi said to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “Everybody does it, OK? I was doing a guy a favor and he screwed me.”

Caridi met a man named Russell Sprague through a mutual friend, according to the outlet. Sprague fixed his broken VCR, and asked if he could borrow some screeners, which Caridi agreed to. Soon, he began sending them to Sprague via FedEx.

“I would send them to him before I even looked at them,” Caridi told THR. “And then he would copy them and send them back.”

The FBI learned of his lending and he was called in to their Los Angeles office, where officials offered him immunity in return for naming Sprague.

“I thought I was going to jail,” he said. “If I didn’t, they would have handcuffed me.”

Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. both sued Caridi and a U.S. District Judge ordered him to pay $300,000, plus attorneys fees, to each studio. In March 2004, Sprague pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement and was allowed to return to his home in Illinois. He was later violated the terms of his release by continuing to copy movies, THR reported. Agents found 130 homemade DVDs in his home, after his wife informed the FBI. He died in his jail cell the following February while awaiting trial.

In February 2004, the Academy’s board of governors voted to expel Caridi: “They wrote me a letter,” he recalled. “‘You’re finished.’”

Caridi became the first Academy member to be expelled.

He continued to act following the controversy (most recently in a 2019 episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), telling THR at the time that he didn’t blame the Academy because he did violate their rules. He revealed he still received screeners from the Screen Actors Guild.

“Some, not as much as I got from the Academy,” he said, adding, “I lend them to my neighbor.”

In a statement to USA Today, Caridi’s representative Sarah Mednick said, “Perhaps Carmine’s biggest regret was his involvement in a scandal that left him expelled from The Motion Picture Academy. While exonerated by police and the FBI, Carmine was always deeply saddened by what had transpired.”

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