Carmine Caridi, 'Godfather' Actor Who Was Kicked Out of the Academy, Dies at 85

Carmine Caridi  -  The Hollywood Show  - Getty -H 2019
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Caridi was expelled for sharing screeners. "I made a lot of people happy," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017.

Actor Carmine Caridi, who appeared in two Godfather films and was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for sharing screeners, has died. He was 85.

Caridi died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his rep, Tim Jordan of Jordan Lee Talent, told The Hollywood Reporter. Actor-director Chazz Palminteri told TMZ that Caridi died of complications suffered from a recent fall.

During his six-decade career, Caridi portrayed the mobsters Carmine Rosato in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Albert Volpe in The Godfather: Part III (1990), and appeared on such TV shows as Starsky and Hutch, Fame, Taxi, Simon & Simon and NYPD Blue.

Caridi was born in Manhattan and raised in a neighborhood dominated by criminals. As an adolescent, he took up acting at the local Boys Club, and doing so "saved my life … I'm lucky I'm here talking to you. All my friends went with the mob," he told THR's Scott Feinberg in 2017.

Caridi served in the U.S. Army for three years during the Korean War and then "had some trouble with the government," he said. He found himself in a federal penitentiary after being arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover agent. "I was a dope addict," he admitted.

Caridi turned his life around and in 1981 had a leading role in Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City as Det. Gino Mascone, which he considered his best work. A year later, he was invited to become a member of the acting branch of the Academy.

Caridi said he received screeners and made VCR copies for others. "I sent [them] to people, besides my brother and sister, who couldn't afford them," he said. "I made a lot of people happy." 

Early in 2004, "a guy from the Academy called and says, 'Carmine, did somebody steal your screeners? Because they found them on the internet,'" said Caridi.

On Feb. 3, 2004 — years before Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski would be banished — the Academy's board of governors voted unanimously to expel Caridi. "They wrote me a letter: 'You're finished,'" he recalled, adding, "I was on television [news] 12 days in a row." He was the first person ever expelled.

A U.S. district judge then ordered Caridi to pay the maximum penalty possible under federal law: $300,000, plus attorney's fees, to two studios. "I knew I was never gonna pay a dime," he said, "because I didn't have it."

Caridi did not question his punishment. "I don't blame the Academy," he told Feinberg. "I did violate their law."