December 10, 2023

Goodfellas actress Suzanne Shepherd has died aged 89, her family has confirmed.

The veteran actress was best known for her roles in Martin Scorsese’s big screen hit about the mob, as well as The Sopranos on TV.

Fans were quick to pay tribute on social media, with one calling her “the go-to mother actress.” Sopranos star Ray Abruzzo also posted a tribute on Instagram, saying:

“Sad to hear of the passing of Suzanne Shepherd.

“A force of nature. Actress, teacher.”

Shepherd portrayed the mother of the character Karen Hill (played by Lorraine Bracco) in Goodfellas.

In The Sopranos, she played Mary DeAngelis, the mother of Carmela Soprano (played by actress Edie Falco).

Shepherd’s enjoyed a career of more than three decades, after her first role as Aunt Tweedy in 1988’s Mystic Pizza. She also featured in Requiem for a Dream, Uncle Buck and Lolita.

On TV, she appeared in shows including Law & Order and Blue Bloods.

She most recently appeared in this year’s The Performance as the character of Tess.

Besides her own acting career, Shepherd directed in theaters across the US and worked as an acting coach from her own studio in New York. An upcoming documentary called A Gift of Fire will chronicle her teaching.

Shepherd studied acting with Sanford Meisner, and went on to teach Meisner’s program of acting study, the first woman to do so. She was a founding member of the Compass Players in the early 1960s, along with Alan Alda and Alan Arkin.

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