Tony Sirico's gangster past revealed after 28 arrests from age 7 and prison before fame as The Sopranos' Paulie Walnuts | The Sun

LEGENDARY actor Tony Sirico's resume was perfect for The Sopranos as he faced 28 arrests before becoming an iconic on-screen gangster and wise guy.

The 79-year-old known for his role as Paulie Walnuts on the famous HBO series has died on Friday after a wild ride of crime and stardom.

Sirico brought a lot to his roles, including a rich criminal history that he never shied away from.

In fact, the actor was arrested 28 different times – the first after he stole nickels from a newsstand at the age of seven.

"I was a pistol-packing guy," Sirico said.

"The first time I went away to prison, they searched me to see if I had a gun – and I had three of 'em on me.

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"They'd ask why I was carrying and I'd say I live in a bad neighborhood. It was true."

The Paulie Walnuts star was born on July 29, 1942, in New York City, specifically the Brooklyn neighborhood Bensonhurst.

"In our neighborhood, if you weren't carrying a gun, it was like you were the rabbit during rabbit-hunting season," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Eventually, Sirico's arrests led him to the big screen after he saw a performance by ex-con actors during his last prison stay in the 1970s.

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He joked that constantly chatting up police captains gave him the chops to be a successful actor.

"I got 28 arrests and only two convictions, so you gotta admit I have a pretty good acting record," he said.

Growing up in Bensonhurst, he also had ties to the Colombo crime family, Yahoo News reported.

Between 1960 and 1970, he was arrested for assault, robbery, and other crimes.

But acting saved the man from himself, and Sirico used his experience to give performances that no one could touch.

Sirico appeared in the famous film Goodfellas before becoming part of the Sopranos cast.

While continuing to play the various mob boss in TV shows and movies, Sirico also found steady work as a voiceover artist.

Sirico also appeared in a number of Woody Allen films, including Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, and Cafe Society.

"I feel good about what I've accomplished," he told the LA Times.

"I came from another world, and now I'm an actor."

The late acting legend said that he was proud of his work.

"I remember when I got that first part in The Godfather, and Coppola told me I was a real character, with a line of dialogue and everything," he said.

"Oh, let me tell you. I was strutting.

"I was thinking, 'I got a name. I got a name!'"

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