Suzanne Shepherd, 'Goodfellas' And 'The Sopranos' Actor, Dead At 89

The actor was best known for portraying rightfully protective mothers in both of the iconic gangster dramas.

Suzanne Shepherd, an actor best known for portraying protective mothers in “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos,” has died. She reportedly passed away peacefully in her sleep Friday at her New York City home. A cause of death has not been disclosed. She was 89.

“My mom died Friday,” her daughter, Kate Shepherd, wrote Monday on Instagram. “God bless her. Nobody will replace her magnitude. I’m grateful to have spent a lot of the summer together knowing it would be our last (although she was planning the next garden).”

Kate Shepherd told TMZ her mother had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Suzanne Shepherd starred in 20 episodes of “The Sopranos” as Mary DeAngelis, the mother of Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano. She had notably portrayed the rightfully concerned mom of Lorraine Bracco’s Karen Hill in Martin Scorsese’s iconic “Goodfellas” only nine years earlier.

Suzanne Shepherd had also starred in other classics, including Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem For A Dream” and Adrian Lyne’s “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Lolita” — but was a classically trained actor who taught at numerous schools and ran her own studio.

“While she was Edie Falco’s mother on the Sopranos and wore a huge wart in Uncle Buck being brilliant and had horns growing out of her scalp in Jacob’s Ladder, her focus was so much on teaching Meisner technique (she was his protege.),” Kate Shepherd wrote Monday.

Suzanne Shepherd was born Oct. 31, 1934, and graduated from Bennington College, according to her website. She studied under Sanford Meisner and founded the Compass Players with Alan Alda and Alan Arkin in the 1960s, Deadline reported.

Suzanne Shepherd starred in films by Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and Mike Nichols.
Suzanne Shepherd starred in films by Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and Mike Nichols.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

She also became a dedicated acting coach at Trinity Square Conservatory, Berghof Studio and Hartman Conservatory, and eventually ran her own studio in New York City. She even directed plays at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and New York City’s Nederlander.

The actor’s silver screen credits include cult classic comedies like “Mystic Pizza” (1988), “Working Girl” (1988) and “Uncle Buck” (1989). She also starred in beloved TV shows such as “Law & Order” and “Blue Bloods,” in addition to her unforgettable run on HBO.

Suzanne Shepherd’s fellow “Sopranos” alum Ray Abruzzo, who played Little Carmine Lupertazzi in the acclaimed series, remembered her fondly on Instagram: “Sad to hear of the passing of Suzanne Shepherd. A force of nature. Actress, teacher.”

Her final role was in “The Performance” (2023) opposite Jeremy Piven and Robert Carlyle. A memorial for the actor is expected in 2024.

“Hard to say RIP but come to think of it, I really do hope she’s happy right now, reunited with her brother, son and grandson,” Kate Shepherd concluded her social media tribute.


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