James Kane, who made a lasting film career in six decades in various roles but was forever recognized by one of his early characters, the fast-paced, skirt-chasing Sony Corleone in the original “Godfather” movie. Gone, passed away on Wednesday. He was 82 years old.
His death was announced by his family. On twitter And its manager, Matt del Piano, confirmed. Both his family and his manager declined to say where he died or what caused it.
By the time “The Godfather” was released in 1972, Mr. Kane had established himself as a young actor to watch. He had a sweet role in the 1966 Western film “El Dorado” starring John Wayne and Robert Macham. (Wayne, Mr. Kane said, was cheated on a game of chess during a break in filming.)
His first collaboration with director Francis Ford Coppola in the 1969 film “The Rain People” earned him critical acclaim for his role as a simple-minded former footballer.
“Brian’s Song” (1971), an early television film, caught the attention of a wider audience. Based on a true story, it focuses on the friendship between a black football star, the Chicago Bears’ Gail Sears (played by Billy de Williams) and a white teammate Brian Piccolo. Piccolo died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 26, and Mr. Kane comedically starred in the film Three Hanky.
Then came Mr. Coppola’s “godfather.” Initially cast as the main character, Michael Corleone – the role eventually played by El Pacino – Mr. Kane played Sony, hurriedly in anger and eventually shot dead on a causeway. He immersed himself in the role so much that for years, he said, strangers would say things like, “Hey, don’t go to this toll booth again.”
Some even considered it a real mob. “I have been accused many times,” he told Vanity Fair in 2004. “I’ve won the ‘Italy of the Year’ twice in New York, and I’m not Italian.”
He was, in fact, Jewish, raised by German-born parents in Sunside, Queens. “I was once banned from the country club,” he said. “Oh, yeah, that guy sat in front of the board and he said, ‘No, no, he’s a smart guy, he’s been in town.’ He is a man made. ‘ I thought, ‘What, are you out of your mind?’ “
Mr. Kane received an Emmy nomination for “Bryans Song” and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for “The Godfather”. His Oscar nominations included Mr. Pacino and another “Godfather” actor, Robert Doval. The trio canceled each other, and the award went to Joel Gray for “Cabaret”.
By then, Mr. Kane’s career had accelerated. The decade that followed was particularly fertile. His characters include the sailor in love in “Cinderella Liberty” (1973), the self-destructing professor in “The Gambler” (1974), the anti-authority player in “Roller Ball” (1975), World War II “A Bridge”. Sergeant in “Too Far” (1977) and not a very bright one in “Thief” (1981), his favorite film.
Not all of his films got proper notice, but with his uneven good looks and clear smart, he usually acted. Reviewing “Cinderella Liberty” for the New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote“Mr. Caan looks like Paul Newman in the 1970s. An intelligent, versatile actor with a low-key but obscure public figure.
Like Paul Newman, Mr. Kane tried his hand at directing. But he did so only once, with “Hyde in Plain Sight” (1980), in which he also starred, as a man trying to bring his children into the government’s witness protection program. Later he was looking for his children. The film did poorly at the box office and disappointed.
“Everyone wants to do ‘Rocky 9’ and ‘Airport 96’ and ‘Jose 7’,” he said in 1981. “And you see and you hear, and the little idealism you left behind is slowly disappearing.”
In his prime, Mr. Kane had a masculine reputation that he liked. In interviews, he spread four-letter words like a bird’s seed. He won the sixth degree black belt in karate. He tied the strings to the rodeo circuit and arranged for a boxer – the chase, especially the rodeo, which left him with so many stitches and patches in his shoulders and arms that sports writer Jim Murray once said, “Born Jimmy Kane. It didn’t happen, he did embroidery. “
Mr. Kane also had a reputation for being a bad boy. He got married four times and got divorced. He appeared as a witness to the character of an old friend of Queens who was being tried as a mobster because, he said, standing people are loyal to their friends. And with the law he had his own brush.
Police questioned him at length in 1993 when a man died in a fire in a Los Angeles apartment where Mr. Kane was staying. Authorities concluded the death was accidental, and Mr Kane said he was asleep when it happened.
The following year, North Hollywood police arrested him after he threw a heavy pistol at the public. He said he did it just to end the fighting. Charges dropped.
Along the way, he checked into a cocaine addiction rehabilitation center that began after his sister, Barbara Laker, died in 1981 of leukemia. The two had a close relationship – she was the president of a film production company that included James and others. His brother, Ronald – and his death had a profound effect on him.
He barely worked for the next six years and sank into debt. “I’ve been involved in the whole lifestyle of girls and drugs and parties,” she told Entertainment Weekly, adding that “you get really caught up in it, and it’s very destructive.”
But he made a comeback, starting with the 1987 Vietnam War drama “Gardens of Stone”, another collaboration with Mr. Coppola, in which he played the role of a strict sergeant. He then starred in the box office hit “Missy” (1990) as a captive of a mad fan (played by Kathy Bates), including a writer, directed by Rob Rainer and starring Stephen King. Based on the novel. A tough but romantic mob in “Honeymoon in Vegas” (1992); Another mobster in the comedy “Mickey Blue Eyes” (1999); And a contradictory book editor in Elf (2003).
He also turned to television, most notably the “Las Vegas” series, in which he was seen as president and chief security officer of a casino’s operations from 2003 to 2007. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.
Born in the Bronx on March 26, 1940, James Edmund Kane grew up in Queens, the son of Arthur Kane, a Kosher meat wholesaler, and Sophie (Falkenstein) Kane, a homemaker.
He was more interested in street life than in the classrooms. He dropped out of several schools before moving to Manhattan’s Rhodes Preparatory School, where he graduated in 1956 at the age of 16.
At Michigan State University, he hoped to form a football team but failed. He enrolled at Hofstra University on Long Island – Mr. Coppola was a classmate – but left a short time ago. However, his interest in acting burned there. He attended the Manhattan Theater’s famous Neighborhood Hood Playhouse School in Manhattan for five years.
At the same time, he met an actress named DJ Mathis, who became the first of his four wives (his marriage lasted from 12 years to barely a year). He is survived by his brother Ronald. Five children, actors Scott Kane and Tara, Alexander, James and Jacob Kane; And four grandchildren.
Mr. Kane’s early work included 1960s television series such as “Route 66,” “Dr. Kildere,” and “Wagon Train.” Films with “The Godfather” Ghalib soon began.
In the film, he said, he improved some of his lines and actions, including two words he did not invent but entered the local language.
Sony told Michael how difficult it would be to kill family enemies: “You have to get up like this and – Bad bang! – You blow their minds on your nice Ivy League suit.
“Big bang? Great height Did I say that? ”Mr. Kane said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “Or I just said Bad bang? It just came out of my mouth. I don’t know where. “