February 24, 2004 by

Joe Viterelli


Categories: Actors

jviterelli.jpgJoe Viterelli, the pug-faced actor known for playing goons in mob movies, died on Jan. 29 from complications of heart surgery. He was 66.

The New York City native originally ran the family business — of music schools. Viterelli played the classical guitar and spent his youth saving up enough money to see performances at Carnegie Hall and Broadway theaters. He later took on jobs as a truck driver, bar owner and bowling ball driller to feed his family.

Viterelli moved to Los Angeles in the late-1970s and befriended director Leo Penn. Although Joe originally declined to go Hollywood, he changed his mind when actor Sean Penn (Leo’s son) requested his presence in the 1990 gangster film, “State of Grace.”
Audiences liked what they saw and Viterelli soon received offers to act in other mob movies. He appeared in 40 films, typecast as Joe Profaci (“Mobsters”), Nick Valenti (“Bullets Over Broadway”), Vinnie “The Shrimp” (“Mickey Blue Eyes”) and Fat Tony Ragoni (“Cure for Boredom”). He was best known for his performance as the likable henchman Jelly in 1999’s “Analyze This” and its 2002 sequel, “Analyze That.”

His final performance was in the humorous Staples commercial released on Super Bowl Sunday. It featured Viterelli acting as “muscle” for an office worker whose manager demanded bakery bribes in exchange for office supplies.

13 Responses to Joe Viterelli

  1. Jackie

    Once again, remember the face, never knew the name. I can admit that I really enjoyed Analyze This, thought Analyze That was okay, but really loved the Staples commercial!!!!

  2. Steve

    It’s such a shame. I just found out today (04-26-04) while sitting in a hospital waiting room, reading a month old copy of Entertainment Weekly. Such a shame. I really loved his work. I don’t think people know that he was in more than 50 films! I also didn’t know that he died on my 30th birthday. Jelly will be missed. Such a shame at only 66 years old. ๐Ÿ™

  3. MJ

    Joe was one of the funniest actors I have ever come across. He, DeNiro and Crystal did such a wonderful job in Analyze This, Analyze That. My husband and I have both movies and watch them at least 3 times a week. “Bada Bing” !! I like Jelly’s line in Analyze That to Billy Crystal about picking out a gun for the heist. “Oh yah..this brings back fond memories.. Bada Bing!” Miss ya Jelly… ๐Ÿ™

  4. lore

    Joe was a visitor in my home on several occasions–One weathery afternoon he arrived at my home in Irvington, NY–in a taxi–late for lunch. He’d taken the taxi from Brooklyn to Irvington–a very long journey in a taxi. Joe was working on Bullets Over Broadway at the time–he had many funny stories about things that had happened while filming. He could do the dialects from any of the ‘neighborhoods’ in New York–and was working on writing a novel about the neighborhood he grew up in–he let me read the opening scene and it was wonderful. Joe often spoke of his love for the theater–when he was in high school he’d work odd jobs to earn money so he could attend plays. Joe was smart, funny, gentle, and a good friend. Those who were lucky enough to have spent time in Joe’s company will miss his warmth.

  5. Laura

    Joe, I remember you and a little thing called, “Commodity Trading”. It’s a good thing you went into acting you weren’t exactly straight up when it came form applications. Rest in peace.

  6. Jesi

    I was bummed to read about Joe’s death. I heard about it just a few days ago. ๐Ÿ™ I loved him, he was such a softie.. ๐Ÿ™‚ He made me laugh in Anyalyze this, and he will be remembered fondly. Not many like him, if at all! In warm and fond memories of his acting..all held with a smile and giggle! His family has lost a gem! God Bless YOU!!

  7. Dominick Vessia

    For an actor, who did not receive formal trainig and started his career late, Joe was superb. His timing and delivery was so beneficial in “Analyze This” that I believe he should have been nominated fo an academy award. Billy Crystal gave the eulogy. I will bet he would agree. Bless you for the laughter you brought us

  8. John Maconachie

    “Seems like a smart guy — he had a business card and everything”
    “no-one will ever know”
    “you gotta eat more roughage — a bran muffin in the morning can help that”
    Not many people could deliver lines like that with the authenticity and comic genius that “Jelly” achieved — I watch him regularly and ALWAYS laugh.

  9. Archie

    I believe he also did an American Express Commercial…shortly before he died….He was terrific …especially in Eraser…”Don’t make me hurt you Joey”…this after he corrected him about Russians and Ukranians or something of that nature….late start in the business…but was true GENM!!!!!!!!

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