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R.I.P. James Caan, Iconic The Godfather and Thief Actor Dead at 82

Caan also delighted audiences in Eraser, Misery, Bottle Rocket, and Elf

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James Caan, photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
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    James Caan, the iconic actor who starred in such classic films as The Godfather, Misery, and Thief, has died at the age of 82.

    The news was unveiled by his representatives through his own social media account. “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6th,” a statement read. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

    Following Caan’s idiosyncratic social media habits, the statement ended with the words, “End of tweet.”

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    Born March 26th, 1940, Caan played football at Michigan State before transferring to Hofstra University, where he met future collaborator Francis Ford Coppola. He was accepted into the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre where he studied with legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner, and soon began appearing in off-Broadway plays. He made his major film debut in the 1964 psychological thriller Lady in the Cage and received a Golden Globe nomination for the Sam Peckinpah-scripted Western, The Glory Guys (1965).

    By the late ’60s Caan had graduated to big budget stardom, appearing alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1966) and anchoring Robert Altman’s second film, The Countdown (1967). In 1969, he began what would turn out to be one of the most thrilling partnerships in film history when he appeared in his old classmate Coppola’s movie, The Rain People. They would reunite three years later for The Godfather, which saw Caan play Sonny Corleone, the hot-headed eldest son of Vito Corleone. His fiery performance nabbed him an Oscar nomination, and he would go on to reprise the role in 1974’s The Godfather II.

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