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Wed, 07.30.1930

Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, Chauffeur born

Tony 'Lip' Vallelonga

*Tony Lip was born on this date in 1930.  He was a white-Italian American actor, chauffeur, bodyguard, and occasional author.  

Born Frank Anthony Vallelonga, he was from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, the son of Italian parents, Nazarena and Nicholas Vallelonga.  His family moved to the Bronx when he was an infant, and he grew up on 215th Street near the boyhood home of John Gotti. He earned the nickname "Lip" as a child: a reference to his reputation for having the ability to talk people into doing things he wanted them to do.  From 1951 to 1953, he served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany. 

After the Army he worked at the Copacabana, starting in 1961, as maître d'hôtel and supervisor.  While working as a bouncer he was hired to chauffer and protect African American pianist Donald Shirley on a tour through the Jim Crow South from 1962 to 1963.  The intersectionality of this tour was the story of the 2018 film Green Book co-written by Lip's son Nick Vallelonga.  

Lip is best known for his portrayal of crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi in the HBO series, The Sopranos.  He had a small role in The Godfather, his film debut. He also co-wrote the book Shut Up and Eat! (2005).  In his later years, he lived in Paramus, New Jersey, with his wife, Dolores who died in 1999.  Tony Lip died at age 82 on January 4, 2013 in Teaneck, New Jersey.   

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