Veteran actor Frank Vincent has died aged 78.

The Hollywood star, who appeared in several Martin Scorsese films and played Phil Leotardo on 'The Sopranos', suffered a heart attack last week and died on Wednesday (13.09.17) during open-heart surgery at a New Jersey hospital, according to TMZ.

In recent years, Frank may have become best known for his role in the popular TV series, in which he played the boss of the Lupertazzi crime family.

But prior to that, the actor appeared in a string of Scorsese-directed movies, including 'Raging Bull', 'Goodfellas' and 'Casino'.

Frank also appeared in an episode of 'Law & Order: SVU', as well as voicing the part of Jon Gabagooli in the animated series 'Mr Pickles'.

Before his death, Frank acknowledged that his Italian-American background led to him being type-caste as a gangster.

The actor explained that he and Joe Pesci often found themselves competing for the same roles.

He said: ''An Italian-American? Frank or Joe. It is who you are. I've played other roles, but because of my New Jersey background, it lends itself beautifully to do that. There's not a lot you can do about it but try to do other diverse roles.''

Allied to his acting work, Frank co-wrote a book in 2006 called 'A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man', and he worked as a musician, comedian and producer.

Maureen Van Zandt, who starred as Gabriella Dante on 'The Sopranos', has already expressed her condolences on Twitter.

She said: ''We lost one of our family today. Frank Vincent. Wonderful actor and lovely man. Rest In Peace, Frankie. (sic)''

Another of Frank's co-stars on 'The Sopranos', Vincent Pastore, has paid tribute to the actor, too.

He told The Blast via email: ''We lost a great character actor and great man... May he always stay in our memory. (sic)''