Sam Coppola (July 31, 1932 – February 5, 2012) was an American actor. He appeared in almost 70 films, beginning in 1968, but may be best remembered for his role as Dan Fusco, owner of the hardware and paint store in Saturday Night Fever, who gave John Travolta’s character sage but salty advice in the classic 1977 film. Later in his career, Coppola made a brief but memorable appearance on The Sopranos as the idiosyncratic family therapist of Jennifer Melfi.
Coppola was a cop in Serpico (1973), starring Al Pacino, and a detective in Fatal Attraction (1987), starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. His many TV credits include The Practice, The Good Wife, Law & Order, The Sopranos, Ryan’s Hope and the 2001 A&E movie The Big Heist, in which he portrayed mob boss Paul Castellano. Coppola played a nursing home resident in a Chevy commercial that aired during 2011’s Super Bowl and a hot dog vendor in a Ball Park Franks spot starring Michael Jordan.
Coppola, a 38-year resident of Leonia, with no relation to film director Francis Ford Coppola, also had many stage roles. He played the hobo Vladimir in a 2005 off-Broadway production of Waiting for Godot and aging real estate salesman Aaronow in a 2000 production of Glengarry Glen Ross at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton.
Coppola died February 5, 2012 from an aneurysm.