12 things to know about Danny Aiello: Hustler to Lorenzo’s headliner

By Rob Bailey | bailey@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Danny Aiello has a 320-page memoir out with an epic title: “I Only Know Who I am When I am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies”(Gallery Books).

Lotta words for a lotta life.

Thought you already knew this Oscar-nominated actor? Well, turns out he just “backed” into a four-decade career in Hollywood and on Broadway.

“It must be something I was more or less destined to do,” the 81-year-old first-time author told me recently. “The reason being, I didn’t voluntarily leave one life for another; it just so happened to be that way.”

Oh, and don’t expect a tawdry tell-all: “My book is not ‘Daddy Dearest.’ I didn’t know him well enough to dislike him, and my mother never once talked badly about him. I’ve seen so many people killing their relatives in books, but I love most everybody. There’s a little bit of stuff in there about a Scorsese and Lauren Bacall in there (chuckles), but not too much.”

The main takeaway from his compelling tale: This veteran entertainer is, well, a lot of people. A family man — and tough guy. An elected official — and a pool hustler. An every man — and a unique talent.

“It was out of necessity — I wasn’t Walter Mitty or Zelig,”  Aiello said, in his smoky, soft-spoken voice. “I was just a guy that something happened to, so I couldn’t do one thing anymore and I had to find something else to do.”

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