In Memoriam: Richard Romanus, ‘Mean Streets’ Actor, Dies At 80


Richard Joseph Romanus, born on February 8, 1943, in Barre, Vermont, and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, started his journey into the entertainment industry after graduating from Xavier University in Cincinnati with a philosophy degree in 1964. Initially studying law, he later shifted to acting under the guidance of Lee Strasberg at Carnegie Hall.


Breakthrough Role in “Mean Streets”

"Explore the legacy of Richard Romanus, the acclaimed 'Mean Streets' actor known for his iconic role as Michael Longo, who has passed away at the age of 80."

Romanus gained widespread recognition for his role as Michael Longo, the tough loan shark in Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” (1973). His iconic scene with Robert De Niro, where animosity between the two actors translated into a memorable on-screen confrontation, became a hallmark moment in cinematic history.

Diversified Career: From Animation to TV

Beyond “Mean Streets,” Romanus made significant contributions to the world of animation, voicing characters in films like “Wizards” (1977) and “Heavy Metal” (1981). His television career included a notable stint on “The Sopranos,” where he played Richard LaPenna, Jennifer Melfi’s on-again, off-again husband, from 1999 to 2002.


Television Ventures and Notable Performances

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Romanus made appearances in popular TV shows such as “Rhoda,” “Kojak,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “The Rockford Files,” and “Hawaii Five-O.” He also took on regular roles in crime dramas like “Strike Force” (1981-82) and “Foul Play” (1981).

Filmography and Literary Pursuits

Romanus showcased his acting prowess in a diverse range of films, including “Sitting Ducks” (1980), “Protocol” (1984), “Oscar” (1991), and “Point of No Return” (1993). Notably, he co-authored two Lifetime telefilms with his second wife, Anthea Sylbert, whom he married in 1985. In addition to acting, Romanus ventured into writing, penning the book “Act III: A Small Island in the Aegean” and two novels set in Greece.


Honoring a Legacy

Richard Romanus, who passed away on December 23, 2023, in Volos, Greece, leaves behind a lasting legacy in the world of entertainment. Survived by his son, Robert Romanus, and second wife Anthea Sylbert, his contributions to film, television, and literature will be remembered by fans and peers alike.

Final Years in Greece

Having moved to the Greek town of Skiathos with Anthea Sylbert 23 years ago, the couple became honorary citizens in 2021. Romanus documented their experiences in the book “Act III: A Small Island in the Aegean” and continued to contribute to the literary world with two novels set in Greece.

Tributes and Remembering Richard Romanus

As news of Richard Romanus’s passing circulates, the entertainment industry mourns the loss of a talented actor and writer. Fans and colleagues pay their respects to a man who, through his performances and literary creations, left an indelible mark on the world of storytelling.

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