Suzanne Shepherd, a distinguished actress known for her roles in “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos,” passed away at 89, as shared by her friend and fellow actor Tom Titone on Facebook. Titone’s announcement, made on Friday, November 17, revealed the early morning passing of the “Lolita” actor. According to her talent agency’s statement reported by NBC News, Shepherd is survived by her daughter Kate Shepherd, son-in-law Miles McManus, and granddaughter Isabelle Shepherd.
While Shepherd is widely recognized for her portrayal of Karen Hill’s mother in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed film “Goodfellas,” her contributions extended beyond acting. She was also a highly regarded acting instructor and theater director. Her website lists notable actors she collaborated with, including James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Following her college graduation, Shepherd honed her craft under Sanford Meisner, the developer of the Meisner technique in acting. Becoming the first woman to teach Meisner’s technique, she was praised by Larry Silverberg, author of “The Sanford Meisner Approach,” who remarked, “Suzanne Shepherd is renowned as one of the finest acting teachers of our time.”
Shepherd was revered by many individuals in the entertainment industry. Bebe Neuwirth spoke highly of her, saying, “All you can do is talk about [Suzanne Shepherd] in these huge terms, and at that point, people stop believing you because nobody’s that good, but I think she is.” Joan Allen, who acted in “A Lesson from Aloes” under Shepherd’s direction, described her as one of the most passionate people she had ever met.
Even those who didn’t have the opportunity to collaborate with Shepherd praised her work. Her career commenced with roles like Aunt Tweedy in “Mystic Pizza” alongside Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor, followed by appearances in films such as “Working Girl,” “Uncle Buck,” and “Goodfellas.” Additionally, television viewers will remember her as Mary DeAngelis, Tony Soprano’s mother-in-law, in “The Sopranos.”
After news of her passing circulated online, fans began sharing heartfelt tributes to Shepherd on various platforms, expressing admiration for her remarkable performances. Tom Titone’s Facebook post not only commemorated her impactful presence but also credited her for introducing him to his future husband, highlighting Shepherd’s vibrant personality and zest for life.
A Shiva honouring Shepherd’s life will take place on November 20 and 21, while an official memorial service is scheduled for early 2024.