It took 18 years of voice lessons for Paul Sorvino to console himself to the fact that an operatic career was beyond his reach. Having done some acting while attending the American Music and Dramatic Academy, Sorvino decided to pursue the theatre full-time, continuing his studies at New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his Broadway debut as a constable in the 1964 musical Bajour, and six years later appeared in his first film, Where's Poppa. His stardom was secured when he received an avalanche of critical praise for his performance as Phil Romano in the 1972 Broadway play That Championship Season, a role he repeated in the 1981 film version. A convincing heavy in such films as Goodfellas and Dick Tracy, Sorvino has been even more effective in comedy, notably as the Reverend Willie Williams, a flamboyant Jimmy Swaggart takeoff in Carl Reiner's Oh, God (1978). And in the 1976 Elliott Gould-Diane Keaton vehicle I Will, I Will...For Now, Sorvino served up a near-autobiographical vignette in which he tearfully mimed to a recording of I Pagliacci. Squeezing as many TV appearances into his schedule as possible, Sorvino has starred in the weekly series We'll Get By (1975, as George Platt), Bert D'Angelo/Superstar (1976, in the title role) and The Oldest Rookie (1987, as Detective Ike Porter). In 1991, he took over from George Dzundza on the popular series Law and Order, and in 1993 he subbed for the late Raymond Burr in a Perry Mason TV movie. Additional scattered TV credits have included sporadic appearances as Bruce Willis' dad in Moonlighting, and the "Lamont" counterpart in the never-aired original pilot for Sanford and Son. Possessed of seemingly inexhaustible versatility, Sorvino played Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995). Despite his many on-camera commitments, Sorvino has remained active in the theatre as both an actor and director. Paul Sorvino is the father of Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino. In the years to come, Sorvino would remain active on screen, appearing in films like The Cooler and Mr. 3000. In 2014, he guest-starred on the comedy The Goldbergs, playing Jeff Garlin's semi-estranged father.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Suffered from asthma since the age of 10; learned to control asthma attacks through yoga breathing techniques taught to him by actors Robert Burr and Herb Edelman.
- Made his Broadway debut in the musical Bajour in 1964.
- Authored the book How to Become a Former Asthmatic in 1985.
- Founded the Paul Sorvino Asthma Foundation, which aims to build asthma centers for children.
- Casts bronze sculptures; in 2008, he unveiled a commissioned sculpture of playwright Jason Miller in Scranton, Pa.
- Launched his own line of pasta sauces called Paul Sorvino Foods in 2010.