Richard Foronjy, felon-turned-actor featured in “Midnight Run,” “Serpico,” dead at 86

Richard Foronjy

Richard Foronjy, who spent more than eight years in prison before becoming an actor and playing roles in films like “Midnight Run,” “Serpico” and “Carlito’s Way,” died May 19, his family said. He was 86.

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Foronjy said during a 1987 interview with United Press International that he was arrested more than 20 times for “forgery, bank robbery, credit card rip-offs, assorted crimes and skullduggery,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. He added that he was “(guilty of) almost everything except drugs and homicide.”

He spent 8 1/2 years in Sing Sing and Attica prisons in New York after his conviction for armed robbery and was released during the late 1960s, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“Richard’s life serves as a reminder that we are all imperfect beings, striving to navigate the intricate depths of relationships and for some parenthood,” his family wrote in his obituary and on his official Facebook page. “May his spirit find peace, and may his loved ones find solace in the memories of his vibrant essence.”

Foronjy, a native of Brooklyn, New York, got his first film role in the 1973 crime drama “Serpico,” according to Variety.

He would go on to play a variety of tough-guy characters. In the 1984 film “Repo Man,” he played rent-a-cop Arnold Plettschner, who had a memorable, profanity-laced speech.

In the 1988 comedy action film “Midnight Run,” Foronjy played mobster Tony Darvo, while five years later in “Carlito’s Way,” he played another mobster, Peter Amadesso, in the crime drama, according to Variety.

“I was especially good at playing cops, no doubt because I got to know them so well when they were busting me every other week,” Foronjy told UPI.

Foronjy’s other film credits included roles in “Ghostbusters II,” “The Gambler,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” “True Confessions,” and “Man of the House,” Entertainment Weekly reported. On television he appeared in “Who’s the Boss,” “Murphy’s Law,” “Silver Spoons,” “The Jeffersons,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Hill Street Blues,” “M*A*S*H,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Taxi,” and “Hunter.”

Foronjy was born as Richard Edward Salerno was born on Aug. 3, 1937, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I grew up as an angry kid in Brooklyn. I didn’t care about anything,” he once said. “It was in the days before computers, and I thought I could make an easy living forging checks and collecting credit cards. Then, I began robbing candy stores.”

He published a memoir, “From the Mob to the Movies: How I Escaped The Mafia And Landed In Hollywood,” under the name of Richie Salerno in 2020.

“Though his physical presence may have departed, Richard Foronjy’s spirit will live on through the countless lives he touched and the timeless performances that will continue to inspire generations to come,” his obituary read.

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