‘Mean Streets’ actor turned 80 – The Hollywood Reporter

Richard Romanus, the tough character actor best known for his role as Michael Longo, the loan shark from Little Italy who teams up with Robert De Niro’s Johnny Civello in Martin Scorsese’s film Medium streets, has died. He was 80.

Romanus died Dec. 23 at a private hospital in Volos, Greece, his son Robert Romanus said The Hollywood Reporter.

Romanus took on prominent dubbing roles for Ralph Bakshi in the 1977s wizard (as elf warrior Weehawk) and 1982 Hey pretty’ (as the leader of a 1950s greaser gang) and in between he played taxi driver Harry Canyon in another animated film. Heavy metal (1981).

He also appeared in four episodes of The sopranos as Richard LaPenna, the on-again, off-again husband of Lorraine Bracco’s Jennifer Melfi, from 1999 to 2002.

In Medium streets (1973) is Romanus’ character notoriously disrespectful from Johnny when he relies on him for his money.

“You know, Michael, you make me laugh,” Civello says. “Look, I borrow money all over this neighborhood, left and right, from everyone, and I never pay it back. So I can’t borrow money from anyone anymore, right? So who else could I borrow money from other than you?

“I’m borrowing money from you because you’re the only idiot here I can borrow money from without paying it back, right? You know, because that’s what you are, that’s what I think of you, an idiot. You’re smiling because you’re an idiot. You’re a fucking idiot! I’ll tell you something else: I’ll fuck you right where you breathe because I don’t give a shit about you or anyone else.”

Michael will of course do that gets his revenge on the way to Brooklyn.

Richard Joseph Romanus was born on February 8, 1943 in Barre, Vermont, the son of a dentist and grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1964 with a degree in philosophy and spent a year in law school before studying acting with Lee Strasberg at Carnegie Hall.

In 1970, he appeared in episodes of Mission impossible And The Mod Squad and in the television film with David Janssen Night hunting before he was hired Medium streets.

His iconic scene with De Niro took place on the second-to-last day of filming, Scorsese recalls in Andy Dougan’s 2011 book: Untouchable: Robert De Niro.

“Something had happened between Bobby and Richard, because the animosity between them is real in that scene, and I played on that,” the director said. “They got on each other’s nerves so much that I think they really wanted to kill each other. I shot take after take of Bobby shouting all these insults while the crew was very upset.”

Romanus said De Niro actually became angry when he saw him laughing during the tirade. “I saved face by laughing. He thought I should smoke, but he had no control over my reactions,” he said. “Sometimes the reaction you get from your acting partner is not the one you want. Then you just have to react to it. But of course I laughed in that scene. I thought Bobby was very funny when he did that. And he looked ridiculous.”

Romanus spent the rest of the decade appearing in shows like Rhoda, Kojak, Starsky & Hutch, The Rockford Files And Hawaii Five-O and in the film Russian roulette (1975).

In 1981-82 he was given a regular role as Det. Lt. Charlie Gunzer in the violent ABC crime series combat forcestarring Robert Stack and produced by Aaron Spelling, but the series was canceled after 20 episodes.

From left: Michael Goodwin, Robert Stack, Dorian Harewood, Trisha Noble and Richard Romanus from the 1981-82 series combat force.

Robert Phillips/Everett Collection

He played another police officer in another short-lived ABC series. Foul playin 1981.

Romanus’ CV included the films Sitting ducks (1980), protocol (1984), The couch trip (1988), Oscar (1991), Point of no return (1993), Cops and robbers (1994), Nailed (2001) and The young black stallion (2003) and TV work Hill Street Blues, The A Team, MacGyver, Cagney & Lacey And NYPD Blue.

In addition to his son, the survivors also include his second wife, the Oscar-nominated costume designer Anthea Sylbert (Rosemary’s baby, Chinatown, Julia), whom he married in August 1985, and his younger brother Robert Romanus, who played Mike Damone Fast times at Ridgemont High.

23 years ago Romanus and Sylbert moved to the Greek town of Skiathos and he wrote about the experience in Act III: A small island in the Aegean Seapublished in 2011. He is also the author of two novels set in the country, 2011 Chrysalis and 2014 Matoula’s echo.

The couple, who were made honorary citizens of Skiathos in 2021, also wrote and produced two Lifetime television films in 1998 To quit service and 1999s If you believe (The latter earned them a WGA nomination).

Romanus’ first wife was the actress and singer Tina Bohlmann. They were married from 1967 until their divorce in 1975.

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