(UnitedVoice.com) – Actress Suzanne Shepherd, best known for her roles in “The Sopranos” and “Goodfellas,” has died. A statement from her representative said she died peacefully at her New York home. Although she’s best known for portraying mobster matriarchs, in real life, Shepherd was a generous and helpful character who dedicated time to helping others break into acting.
Suzanne Shepherd was born in New York City on October 31, 1934. She earned a degree from Bennington College in Vermont before studying acting with tutors Herbert Berghof, Larry Arrick, and Sanford Meisner. After playing a string of minor roles in the 1960s and 70s, her first big role was in Martin Scorcese’s 1990 crime biopic “Goodfellas,” where she played the bossy mother of gangster bride Karen Friedman.
Then, in 1997, the gangster theme continued when HBO, which was casting a new crime series, chose her to play another mother. Her character was Mary DeAngelis, the mother of Carmela Soprano, and the series was “The Sopranos,” which the Writers’ Guild of America later ranked as the best-written TV series of all time. Shepherd went on to play Mary in 20 episodes of the show. Throughout her career, she also played in many other supporting roles, including Mrs. Hogarth in the 1989 comedy “Uncle Buck” and as three different characters in NBC’s “Law and Order” franchise. Her last appearance was as Tess in “The Performance,” a 2023 movie about a Jewish tap dancer who ends up performing for Hitler.
As well as acting, Shepherd taught other actors for decades. For more than 30 years she gave lessons at the Trinity Square Conservatory, the Berghof Studio — where she’d studied — and her own NYC studio.
Shepherd is survived by her daughter, Kate Shepherd, who is an artist. She died on November 17, aged 89; no cause of death has been officially released as of the time of writing.
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