Green Book Actor Found Dead on Bronx Street

Frank Vallelonga, 60, is dead, and man is charged with concealing a corpse
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2022 3:45 PM CST
Green Book Actor Found Dead on Bronx Street
Frank Valleglonga Jr.   (YouTube/E! News)

Police in the Bronx are investigating the death of 60-year-old actor Frank Vallelonga—best known for playing his real-life uncle in the Oscar-winning film Green Book. Officers found the body of Vallelonga outside a sheet-metal factory early Monday, per the Hollywood Reporter. He had suffered no obvious trauma, say police. Surveillance video led police to arrest 35-year-old Steven Smith, who was allegedly seen dumping Vallelonga's body at the scene after pulling it from a vehicle, reports the New York Times.

Smith, who has been charged with concealment of a corpse, told police that Vallelonga had overdosed but that he didn't know him. The criminal complaint says a woman he identified as "Pam" approached him and told him someone had OD'd in the car, and "I went to the car and drove off." He admitted disposing of the body, per the Times. Smith is due back in court next month, and the Legal Aid Society, which is representing him, says he was not involved in the actor's death.

Vallelonga is the son of the late actor Tony Lip, whose real name was Frank Vallelonga. The 2018 movie Green Book recounts how Lip, in real life, drove Black pianist Don Shirley around the South in the early 1960s. In the film, Frank Vallelonga Jr. portrayed his own uncle, Rudy Vallelonga. The screenplay was co-written by Frank Jr.'s brother Nick, who shared an Oscar for best original screenplay. The film itself won the best-picture award. Vallelonga Jr. also appeared in the independent film The Birthday Cake and on the TV series The Neighborhood, per Variety. (Read more Bronx stories.)

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