Actor Frank Vallelonga Jr., aka ‘Frank Jr.’, of ‘Green Book’ fame found dead in Bronx, NY
Vallelonga’s body of was discovered at 3:51 a.m. Monday after a 911 call reporting a body outside a Hunts Point factory
Cause of death remains undetermined but overdose suspected
Investigators determined the body was earlier seen being dumped from vehicle
A day after the body was discovered, cops arrested Steven Smith, 35, who was seen dumping the body
Cops say Smith who lives in a Bronx homeless shelter, while accused of dumping the body, was not involved in Vallelonga’s death
He is charged with concealment of a human corpse, possession of a stolen vehicle and grand larceny
The vehicle Vallelonga was dumped from, a gray 2021 Hyundai Elantra, belongs to his younger brother Nick Vallelonga
Nick told police that the man arrested for dumping his brother’s body, did not have permission to drive the car
An overdose victim whose corpse was dumped without ID on a Bronx street was identified Thursday as the namesake son of a former Copacabana bouncer played by Viggo Mortensen in the Oscar-winning “Green Book.”
A suspect has been criminally charged with dumping the corpse. Vallelonga’s cause of death remains undetermined but an overdose is suspected.
Frank Vallelonga Jr., 60, was the son of the late Frank Sr., known as “Tony Lip,” who famously accompanied Black pianist Don Shirley as a bodyguard during a tour through the deep South in the early 1960s. The father was also featured in a recurring role on “The Sopranos” after his unlikely transformation from doorman to actor.
The body of Frank Jr. was discovered at 3:51 a.m. Monday after a 911 call reporting a body outside a a sheet-metal manufacturing factory.
Investigators determined the body was earlier seen being dumped from vehicle.
Police said the suspect dumped Frank’s body from a car owned by his younger brother Nick Vallelonga. However, Nick told police the suspect did not have permission or authority to drive the car.
The day after the body was discovered, cops arrested Steven Smith, 35, for concealment of a human corpse, possession of a stolen vehicle and grand larceny. He was released without bail after his arraignment in Bronx Criminal Court.
Smith lives in a Bronx homeless shelter, according to cops. While he is accused of dumping the body he was not involved in Vallelonga’s death, police sources said.
“That dude was dead already,” Smith told cops, according to the criminal complaint against him. “He overdosed. I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
Smith said a woman named Pam told him somebody overdosed in a car. Smith admitted to driving off in the vehicle and dropping the body.
“I got the body out by pulling him out of the car on the floor,” Smith allegedly told cops. “I don’t know the guy at all.”
The car Vallelonga was dumped from, a gray 2021 Hyundai Elantra, belongs to his younger brother Nick Vallelonga, according to court papers. Nick Vallelonga wrote the screenplay for “Green Book” and captured a pair of Oscars. He went on to be successful movie producer.
“Mr. Smith was not involved in the decedent’s unfortunate passing, as noted in the complaint and the charges brought by the District Attorney’s office,” a Legal Aid spokesperson revealed.
In the Sopranos Frank’s late father Tony Lip played New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi in the HBO series .and his brother, Nick Vallelonga, is the co-writer and producer for “Green Book,” which won two Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
Green Book is based on the life of Frank’s Sr. who started off as a bouncer before he was hired to drive and protect pianist Don Shirley during an early 1960s tour through the Jim Crow South.
In the movie, Viggo Mortensen portrays Tony and Frank Jr. plays his other brother, Rudy Vallelonga.
Although Frank Sr. is best known as an actor for his role as New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi in “The Sopranos” along with small roles in organized crime movies like “Goodfellas,” “Donnie Brasco” and “The Godfather.”
The family patriarch landed his job with the musician during a renovation at the Copa, and spent 18 month on the road with Shirley. The musician, who died in 2013, requested no movie be made until after his death and the story remained known only among the Vallelonga family.