James Caan, “The Godfather” actor, dies at 82

Actor James Caan, known for his roles in “The Godfather” and other films over a long career, has died at 82, his family confirmed Thursday.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” a statement posted to the late actor’s Twitter page read. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

Born in 1940 in Queens, New York, Caan worked in Hollywood for over 60 years. He started in his 20s following a transfer from Michigan State University to Hofstra University, when he began booking guest roles on TV dramas like “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” When he was 26, Caan appeared in the 1966 western “El Dorado,” alongside legends John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

The role launched his career, eventually landing him the role of a lifetime: Sonny Corleone in the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola film “The Godfather.” His performance garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He also starred in the 2003 Christmas film “Elf,” as Walter Hobbs, Buddy the Elf’s biological father who must learn the true meaning of Christmas and family.

In a 2021 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Caan said he had no intentions of slowing down.

“I can’t take it easy,” he said. “I enjoy working. I love to work with good people. I have more fun when I’m working, because I get to know new people, and mostly good people, you know? Really good – always in some, you know, some things there’s a couple of people you meet, and there’s a lot – I have a lot of laughs and I get respect, too, sometimes.”