Best known as tough guy Mikey Palmice in the award-winning mafia drama "The Sopranos" (HBO 1999-2007), Al Sapienza has appeared in a plethora of hit TV shows, including "Fringe" (Fox 2008-13), "CSI: Miami" (CBS 2002-12) and "Prison Break" (Fox 2005-09). Surprisingly, however, he made his acting debut as happy-go-lucky Ringo Starr in the 1970s Broadway hit "Beatlemania."
Actually Sapienza's first-ever television role came in 1963 on the long-running soap opera "General Hospital" (ABC 1963- ), but he was only a baby at the time. Sapienza had taken some acting classes while growing up in New York, but when his "Beatlemania" break came, he was spending his time making pizzas at his brother's restaurant in Greenwich Village. The show, featuring a band of Beatles lookalikes playing classic Lennon-McCartney songs in a variety of period costumes, was an instant success. He played Broadway for a year, then toured Asia, Europe and America for a further five years, until the show was forced to close due to a lawsuit issued by the Beatles' company Apple Corps.
Following his Beatlemania experience, Sapienza moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at acting full time. He started landing bit parts in several TV shows, including the dramas "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS 1981-88), "Knots Landing" (CBS 1979-93), and "Falcon Crest" (CBS 1981-90). During this period, Sapienza used the name Alex Statler. The consistent TV work eventually led to small roles in a variety of films; his highest-profile movie credit in his early career came as the doorman in the smash hit romantic comedy "Pretty Woman" (1990). That led to further big screen work, including roles in "Pretty Woman" director Garry Marshall's follow-up, the romantic drama "Frankie and Johnny" (1991) and the heartwarming family film "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home" (1995). In 1997, Sapienza ventured into producing with the low-budget indie feature "The Gifted" (1997), in which he also co-starred.
1999 was a productive year for Sapienza, who appeared in larger roles in three action thrillers: "Silicon Towers," "Supreme Sanction" and "Thick As Thieves." Also in 1999, Sapienza began a recurring role as sociopathic hit man Michael "Mikey Grab Bag" Palmice on "The Sopranos." He appeared in 10 episodes as the right-hand man of "Junior" Soprano (Dominic Chianese) before his character came to a bad end in 2004. Although Mikey was a relatively small part, "The Sopranos" was such an acclaimed and high-profile series that Sapienza's career almost immediately went to the next level.
Sapienza quickly became an in-demand character actor on television, particularly in procedural dramas and action series such as "NCIS" (CBS 2003-), "Alias" (ABC 2001-06), "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC 2001-11) and "Blue Bloods" (CBS, 2010-). Meanwhile, Sapienza continued to expand his experience behind the scenes, producing "Sin's Kitchen" (2004) and "Forget About It" (2006). In 2007, he returned to the stage, co-starring as Dr. Jake Houseman, the father of female lead Frances "Baby" Houseman, in the American premiere of the stage musical version of the cult 1980s film "Dirty Dancing" (1987). In 2011, Sapienza began a recurring role as shady detective Raymond Terney on the crime drama "Person of Interest" (CBS 2011-).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
First television role as Gordon in "Cassie & Co." (NBC)
Produces first feature film "The Gifted"
Recurring role in "The Sopranos" (HBO)
Recurring role in "Person of Interest" (CBS 2011- ) as Det. Raymond Terney