Suzanne Shepherd, a talented and beloved actress known for her roles as maternal figures in iconic films and television shows, has passed away at the age of 89. She died peacefully in her home in New York City early Friday morning, as confirmed by her agent to The Hollywood Reporter.
Throughout her career, Shepherd made a significant impact on the entertainment industry with her memorable performances. She appeared in 20 episodes of The Sopranos as Mary DeAngelis, the mother of Edie Falco’s character, Carmela Soprano. Her portrayal of the mother of Karen Hill, played by Lorraine Bracco, in Goodfellas also left a lasting impression on audiences. Her work on these shows solidified her reputation as a talented character actress.
In addition to her roles in Goodfellas and The Sopranos, Shepherd had a diverse range of credits in both film and television. She appeared in movies such as Mystic Pizza, Uncle Buck, Lolita, Requiem for a Dream, Living Out Loud, and Working Girl. Her talent also extended to guest appearances in TV shows like Ed, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, and Third Watch.
Shepherd’s last on-screen role was in the 2023 film The Performance, where she played the character Tess. Her dedication to her craft continued until the end of her life, leaving behind a legacy of memorable and impactful performances.
Born on October 31, 1934, Shepherd’s passion for acting was evident from a young age. She graduated from Bennington College and honed her craft through studies with influential acting teachers such as Larry Arrick, Herbert Berghoff, and Sanford Meisner. Shepherd also gave back to the acting community by serving as a teacher and acting coach at various institutions, including Trinity Square Conservatory, Hartman Conservatory, the Berghof Studio, and her own studio in New York City.
Shepherd’s talents extended beyond acting, as she also took on directing roles at prestigious theater venues such as the Nederlander Theatre and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She played leading roles in productions at renowned theaters including The Roundabout, Yale Repertory, and Berkeley Repertory, as well as major regional theaters. Her contributions to the theater world were significant and helped to inspire and mentor aspiring actors and directors.
Shepherd is survived by her daughter, artist Kate Shepherd, her son-in-law Miles McManus, and her granddaughter Isabelle Shepherd. A memorial service to honor her life and legacy is expected to be announced in 2024, providing an opportunity for her colleagues, friends, and fans to come together and pay their respects.
Ray Abruzzo, one of Shepherd’s former co-stars on The Sopranos, shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, describing her as “a force of nature.” This sentiment is echoed by the countless individuals whose lives were touched by Shepherd’s talent, passion, and warm spirit.
The passing of Suzanne Shepherd marks the end of an era in the entertainment industry, but her impact will continue to live on through her timeless performances and the memories of those who were fortunate enough to work with her. She leaves behind a legacy that will be cherished by many for years to come.