Biography

​Joe Spinell was born Joseph J. Spagnuolo in Manhattan, New York of Italian immigrant parents, and the last of six children. His father, Pelegrino Spagnuolo (b. 1892, d. 1950), died from liver and kidney disease. His mother Filomena Spagnuolo (b. 1903, d. 1987) was a bit-part actress who acted in a few movies, some of them alongside her son. Spinell stood 5 foot and 11 inches. He was born at his family's apartment in Manhattan's Little Italy on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. A few years after the death of his father, he moved with his mother and older siblings to Woodside, Queens, New York where he lived off-and-on for the remainder of his life. Spinell suffered most of his life from hemophilia as well as chronic asthma. Because of his large, heavyset frame and imposing looks, Spinell was often cast as criminals, thugs, or corrupt police officers. His most notable roles were as mafioso Willi Cicci in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and as loan shark Tony Gazzo in Rocky and Rocky II. Although primarily known as a character actor, Spinell co-wrote and starred as a serial killer in the 1980 film, Maniac. Joe Spinell died in his apartment on January 13, 1989 at the age of 52. The cause of his untimely death is arguable to this day. Some say that his death was caused by sudden heart attack due to heavy drug use, drinking and emotional distress in light of his mother passing away two years earlier. It is also speculated that he may have died from asthma complications, or bled to death from hemophilia related causes. He was planning a sequel to Maniac before his death. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens near his home. He is the distant cousin of the American football team St. Louis Ram's Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spinell was married to adult film star Jean Jennings from February 1977 to July 1979. Together they had one daughter, but they eventually divorced.

​Joe Spinell was born Joseph J. Spagnuolo in Manhattan, New York of Italian immigrant parents, and the last of six children. His father, Pelegrino Spagnuolo (b. 1892, d. 1950), died from liver and kidney disease. His mother Filomena Spagnuolo (b. 1903, d. 1987) was a bit-part actress who acted in a few movies, some of them alongside her son. Spinell stood 5 foot and 11 inches. He was born at his family's apartment in Manhattan's Little Italy on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. A few years after the death of his father, he moved with his mother and older siblings to Woodside, Queens, New York where he lived off-and-on for the remainder of his life. Spinell suffered most of his life from hemophilia as well as chronic asthma. Because of his large, heavyset frame and imposing looks, Spinell was often cast as criminals, thugs, or corrupt police officers. His most notable roles were as mafioso Willi Cicci in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and as loan shark Tony Gazzo in Rocky and Rocky II. Although primarily known as a character actor, Spinell co-wrote and starred as a serial killer in the 1980 film, Maniac. Joe Spinell died in his apartment on January 13, 1989 at the age of 52. The cause of his untimely death is arguable to this day. Some say that his death was caused by sudden heart attack due to heavy drug use, drinking and emotional distress in light of his mother passing away two years earlier. It is also speculated that he may have died from asthma complications, or bled to death from hemophilia related causes. He was planning a sequel to Maniac before his death. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens near his home. He is the distant cousin of the American football team St. Louis Ram's Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spinell was married to adult film star Jean Jennings from February 1977 to July 1979. Together they had one daughter, but they eventually divorced.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 58

Birthday 1936-10-28

Day of Death 1989-01-13

Place of Birth Manhattan, New York

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • -

Acting TV ShowsMovies

The Ransom of Red Chief as Bill
2016 FantastiCozzi as Count Zarth Arn (archive footage)
2001 The Joe Spinell Story as Himself
1995 Thriller Zone as Vinny Durand (segment "Fanatical Extremes") (archive footage)
1989 Rapid Fire as Hansen
1988 Married to the Mob as Leonard 'Tiptoes' Mazzilli
1988 K.O. Kippers as Tony Larosa
1988 Operation Warzone as Brig. Gen. George Delevane
1988 The Undertaker as Uncle Roscoe
1987 The Pick-up Artist as Eddie
1986 Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie as Mr. Robbie
1986 Hollywood Harry
1986 The Whoopee Boys as Guido Antonucci
1986 The Children of Times Square as Street Vendor
1986 The Messenger as Rico
1983 Trackdown: Finding the Goodbar Killer as Escobar
1983 The Last Fight as Angelo
1983 Eureka
1983 Losin' It as Border Patrolman
1983 The Big Score as Mayfield
1983 Vigilante as Eisenberg
1983 Walking the Edge as Brusstar
1982 One Down, Two to Go as Joe Spangler
1982 Monsignor as Bride's Father
1982 The Last Horror Film as Vinny Durand
1982 Night Shift as Manetti
1982 National Lampoon's Movie Madness as Agent / M.C. ("Success Wanters")
1981 Nighthawks as Lt. Munafo
1980 Maniac as Frank Zito
1980 The First Deadly Sin as Charles Lipsky
1980 Melvin and Howard as Go-Go Club Owner #2
1980 The Little Dragons as Yancey
1980 Brubaker as Floyd Birdwell
1980 Cruising as Patrolman DiSimone
1980 Forbidden Zone as Squeezit's Father
1980 The Ninth Configuration as Lt. Spinell
1979 Vampire
1979 Rocky II as Tony Gazzo
1979 Winter Kills as Arthur Fletcher
1979 Last Embrace as Man in Cantina
1978 Starcrash as Count Zartharn
1978 The One Man Jury as Mike Abatino
1978 Paradise Alley as Burp
1978 Big Wednesday as Psychologist
1978 Nunzio as Angelo
1977 Sorcerer as Spider
1976 Rocky as Gazzo
1976 Stay Hungry as Jabo
1976 Taxi Driver as Personell Officer
1976 Next Stop, Greenwich Village as Cop at El Station
1975 92 in the Shade as Ollie Slatt
1975 Farewell, My Lovely as Nick
1975 Strike Force as Sol Terranova
1975 Rancho Deluxe as Mr. Colson
1974 The Godfather: Part II as Willi Cicci
1973 The Seven-Ups as Toredano
1973 Cops and Robbers as Marty
1972 The Godfather as Willi Cicci (uncredited)

Writing

1986 Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie Story
1980 Maniac Screenplay

Production

1986 Maniac 2: Mr. Robbie Producer
1980 Maniac Executive Producer

By signing up for an account on TMDb, you can post directly to Twitter and Facebook.

You need to be logged in to continue. Click here to login or here to sign up.

Global

s focus the search bar
p open profile menu
esc close an open window
? open keyboard shortcut window

On media pages

b go back (or to parent when applicable)
e go to edit page

On TV season pages

(right arrow) go to next season
(left arrow) go to previous season

On TV episode pages

(right arrow) go to next episode
(left arrow) go to previous episode

On all image pages

a open add image window

On all edit pages

t open translation selector
ctrl+ s submit form

On discussion pages

n create new discussion
w toggle watching status
p toggle public/private
c toggle close/open
a open activity
r reply to discussion
l go to last reply
ctrl+ enter submit your message
(right arrow) next page
(left arrow) previous page