Robert Loggia, an Academy Award-nominated actor who embodied both swagger and mischievous charm, notably as a too-trusting Miami crime boss in “Scarface,” died Friday at his home in Los Angeles from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.
Loggia, who could be both sly and sweet, carried an everyman’s understanding and a con-man’s cleverness to roles ranging from the owner of a toy company opposite Tom Hanks in “Big” to his Oscar-nominated turn as sordid private detective Sam Ransom in “Jagged Edge,” written by Joe Eszterhas and starring Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges.
He was born in Staten Island, N.Y., on Jan. 3 1930, played in memorable dramas and comedies during the 1980s and ‘90s. His resume included “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Prizzi’s Honor” and “The Ninth Configuration.”
Though he was nominated for a lead actor in a drama Emmy for his portrayal of a nonconformist investigator in “Mancuso, F.B.I.,” Loggia was less than pleased with the experience.
“I really believed in that character,” he told The Times in 1991. “I wanted to do it, and Brandon Tartikoff [then NBC president] promised me that if I agreed to do it he would make it right. But it didn't happen with NBC Productions (the company that produced the series), which is a separate entity from Brandon and NBC. They didn't make the show that was promised me and that I promised affiliates and sponsors.”
Loggia said the show was supposed to tell “bonafide” FBI stories. “They started to go into demographics and whom my secretary was sleeping with and Frick and Frack with a lady partner,” he said. “FBI people don't have partners to begin with, so it was like the sexual escapade of the week.”
Often referred to as a tough guy, Loggia could be suave and tender. His voice could go raspy and then slip to silken. He was also playful. In “Big,” he and Hanks, a boy magically turned into a man, played “Chopsticks” while dancing over large, lighted piano keys on the floor. The film was directed by Penny Marshall.
But he excelled at playing men with rap sheets and unsettled demons. He appeared in “The Sopranos” as Michele “Feech” La Manna, who sought his place back in the mob after a prison stint. He once summed up his talent as: “I'm a character actor in that I play many different roles, and I'm virtually unrecognizable from one role to another. So I never wear out my welcome.”
The son of Italian immigrants, Loggia was raised in Manhattan’s Little Italy. As a student at the University of Missouri, he studied journalism, but that passion faded when he returned to New York and enrolled at the Actors Studio. In his first film ,in 1956, he played a mobster opposite Paul Newman in “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” based on the life of boxer Rocky Graziano.
He is survived by his wife, Audrey Loggia, and children.