The Tragic Death Of James Caan

American actor James Caan has died at age 82, according to a tweet from his family on July 7. 

Born in the Bronx, New York, but raised in Sunnyside, Queens, Caan turned down a life working in the family meat business to pursue acting, according to TV Guide. He enrolled in Hofstra University but before graduating, he was accepted at and graduated from New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, per Walk of Fame. There, Caan studied under Sanford Meisner.

Caan began working on TV shows as early as the 1960s, per his IMDb credits, but he landed a major role as Sonny Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" in 1972. His character was famously killed off at the Jones Beach toll booth. Caan explained that he was wearing 147 squibs for the scene and thankfully, he clarified what squibs actually were. "[T]he little explosive charges they stick on you to simulate the hits," Caan told The Guardian in 1999. "The ones they use today are little bitty pops, like caps, but back then they were mean f***ers, these coffin-shaped brass cases with gunpowder inside and a prophylactic full of blood sitting on top. When they went off, it felt like I was being punched all over. If my hand had got in front of one, it would have blown a hole clean through." Caan added, "I wouldn't have done it if there hadn't been so many girls around the set to impress." 

James Caan always had correct change at toll booths

James Caan will forever be remembered for his role in "The Godfather." When The Guardian asked if he got jokes at toll booths later in life, Caan replied: "I'll tell you one thing for certain. I always make sure I have correct change."

Caan was certainly the right casting for the reckless Corleone son, not least for his iconic portrayal of Sonny but because his own life was eventful. When he wasn't acting, he was pursuing rodeos, boxing, and had a black belt in karate. Caan was married four times, according to The Guardian, and once, to mend his broken heart, he lived at the Playboy Mansion for a spell. "There were tons of girls over there and well, I'm sorry, but I liked 'em!" he said.

James Caan overcame personal struggles

James Caan took a hiatus from acting, according to The New York Times, spurred on by periods of drug abuse and depression; his sister died of leukemia, and grief also kept him away from Hollywood. However, he told the news source in 2004, "I've never missed one day's work in my life through all this garbage, not one day, and I'm proud of that." 

Caan went to rehab in 1994, according to The Guardian. He famously told the outlet: "Let me tell you something. If I get involved in something, it's like I gotta beat the world champion." Our condolences go out to all of Caan's loved ones.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Fans are completely heartbroken about James Caan

James Caan's impact on Hollywood has been made clear by the overwhelming tributes from fans following the actor's death. "This one hurts. He had a screen presence that made you want to root for him, even when he was playing the bad guy," one fan tweetedAnother wrote, "If you can claim Sonny Corleone, Brian Piccolo, and Jonathan E. on your film resume, you are a legend!" 

Fans were also quick to note that the Bronx native — who starred in films like "Misery" and "Elf" — had become very active on Twitter in recent years. "RIP James Caan, one of Future's biggest fans," wrote HuffPost editor Phillip Lewis. Along with the tweet, Lewis shared a screenshot from Caan's Twitter account in which the actor suggested that Future should be on the Hip-Hop Mount Rushmore. Caan's tweet has been retweeted over 2,000 times, and currently has more than 14,000 likes. Caan was no stranger to the social media platform, having been dubbed by some as "America's Twitter Grandpa." Caan used his Twitter account to share throwback photos, promote recent interviews, and of course, engage in trending conversations. He even acknowledged the death of "Goodfellas" star Ray Liotta. Caan tweeted, "Not Ray," alongside a broken-hearted emoji.

The iconic actor had become so immersed in the Twitter-sphere that some believed his account was being run by a member of his team. However, Caan was quick to shut down that misconception, emphasizing that he is behind every message that comes from his verified account. "Nobody speaks for me," Caan wrote. "End of tweet."