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Frank Pellegrino, The Sopranos Star, Dead at 72

Pellegrino played FBI director Frank Cubitoso

Liam Mathews

Frank Pellegrino, a restaurateur and actor best known for playing the FBI's New Jersey bureau chief on The Sopranos, died Tuesday, Entertainment Weekly reports. He was 72.

"I was with Frankie yesterday just after he passed," Pellegrino's friend and New York City mayoral candidate Bo Dietl told EW. "He decided that he wanted to leave and he asked his family to take the plug out. He was one of the bravest people I ever met in my life."

Pellegrino had been battling lung cancer.

On The Sopranos, Pellegrino played Chief Frank Cubitoso on Seasons 1 through 5, appearing in 12 episodes. Cubitoso was one of mobster Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) main law enforcement foils.

Frank Pellegrino

Frank Pellegrino

Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit

Pellegrino's other acting roles included New York Undercover, Goodfellas (a movie in which 26 other Sopranos actors appeared) and multiple appearances on the Law & Order franchise.

His main gig, however, was as co-owner of New York City restaurant Rao's, a landmark Italian restaurant in East Harlem that's been in business since 1896.

Pellegrino was born in 1944 and grew up in East Harlem.