Many actors from the cast of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas appeared in the TV series The Sopranos, but there’s one actor who appeared in the three most popular worlds in the gangster genre: The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos. The gangster genre is a popular one among viewers, both in film and on TV, and there are directors and writers whose names have become synonymous with gangster stories, as is the case of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and David Chase
In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola brought The Godfather, based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same and which chronicles the saga of the Corleone family. The Godfather ended up being the first entry in a trilogy and became one of the most influential movies in film history, especially in the gangster genre, as well as one of the best movies ever made. The Godfather’s success made way for other now-classics of the genre, as is Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Released in 1990 and based on the book Wiseguy by Nicolas Pileggi, Goodfellas tells the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a mob associate of the Lucchese crime family who ended up becoming an FBI informant. Another notable title in the gangster genre is the TV series The Sopranos, created by David Chase, which told the story of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he tried to balance his family life with his role as boss of the Soprano family.
The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos are the most influential gangster stories in film and TV history, and as mentioned above, some of them share some cast members, especially Goodfellas and The Sopranos, such as Michael Imperioli (Spider in Goodfellas and Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos), Lorraine Bracco (Karen Hill/Jennifer Melfi), and Frank Vincent (Billy Batts/Phil Leotardo). However, there’s one actor who had a role, even if minor, in The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos: Tony Lip.
After serving in the United States Army, Tony Lip (whose real name was Frank Anthony Vallelonga Sr) worked at the Copacabana nightclub in the 1960s, where he met many famous people, among those Francis Ford Coppola. This led to Lip getting a small role in Coppola’s The Godfather, where he had an uncredited appearance as a wedding guest. Tony Lip appeared in Goodfellas also in a minor role as Frankie the Wop (based on Frank Manzo), and he can be seen in the Bamboo Lounge scene where Henry introduces the audience to the crew. Years later, Tony Lip was cast in The Sopranos as Carmine Lupertazzi, the boss of the Lupertazzi crime family from season 3 to season 5.
In addition to these roles in the three biggest titles in the gangster genre, Tony Lip had a minor role in Crazy Joe and played Philly Lucky in Donnie Brasco, the latter based on real-life mobster Philip Giaccone, from the Bonanno crime family. Although he had minor roles in most of these gangster movies and TV shows, Tony Lip could brag about being the one actor who appeared in The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos, and in the process, he got to work with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.