Despite being estranged from each other, Big Ang’s husband Neil Murphy was by her side as she passed away on February 18. The couple were not together in her final days as she succumbed to State 4 throat cancer in a New York hospital. During her final TV appearance, Ang told Dr. Oz that she would rather be alone than with Murphy, 43. She was 55 years old.
Rumors, started by by Entertainment Tonight, began to swirl on the night of February 17 stating that Ang had passed away.
Those reports were later confirmed to be untrue in a Twitter post by Ang’s reps. At around 3 a.m., the tragic news came through that Big Angela Raiola had lost her battle with cancer and passed away in a hospital in Manhattan surrounded by loved ones.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. ‘He Was Part of Her Life,’ According to Big Ang’s Co-Star Carla Facciolo
The Hollywood Reporter’s Joe Bel Bruno tweeted that Murphy was by Big Ang’s side as she passed away. As the news that Big Ang had died spread, he wrote on his Twitter page, “I will always love you forever please watch over the grandkids I know you will.”
Big Ang’s co-star Carla Facciolo told People that Murphy was there with Big Ang at the end. Facciolo said, “He’s part of her life. He’s still her husband, you know? I don’t know if they got back together, but to Ang, when she throws somebody off her for a little bit, they’re always back in. She takes in people.”
Despite the fact that the couple were estranged, Murphy is championing Ang’s battle with cancer on his Twitter page. He goes by the moniker “MrBigAngeVH1” on the site. During her appearance on Dr. Oz, Ang talked about her relationship saying, “I felt he never stepped up to the plate, so I was done with it. I feel now it’s too late, bye, I’d rather be by myself. I been taking care of everything since I been married to him. I don’t need it. So, I’d rather be alone. And I’ve, that’s what I did.” His last tweet prior to her death showed him hold his granddaughter saying, “Me and my baby only thing making me smile these day want to tell everyone thanks for all the love.”
Ang told Radar Online in January 2016 that the pair had split in December. She said, “I just felt like Neil just doesn’t do the right thing and I don’t need to be with somebody who doesn’t support me and I don’t need him. And I just think that it’s done. I lost it. You just lose it. I’m sure he doesn’t [feel that it’s done], but too bad…He lives with his mama.” She added that she wasn’t planning on getting divorced and wanted to stay separated.
2. The Couple Reconciled in 2012 With Ang Promising to Kick Him Out if He Started Drinking Again
In May 2015, Murphy and Ang appeared on an episode of VH-1’s Couple’s Therapy. The couple had been “back together” after a period apart in August 2012, according to a New York Daily News feature on Ang. Their reconciliation hinged on him not drinking. She told the newspaper, “It’ll take one little thing to start me off to throw him out. As long as my husband doesn’t drink, he can stay here. If he ever has another drink, he would have to leave.” He added, “Everything’s been good. Third time’s a charm.”
3. After Her Bar Closed in the Summer of 2015, Murphy Was Shown as the Family’s Main Breadwinner in Season 6 of ‘Mob Wives’
Murphy was a regular fixture on Mob Wives. In the show’s sixth and final season, which was airing at the time that Big Ang’s death was announced, Murphy is shown to be the primary breadwinner in the family after his wife’s bar was shut down. Previously, Murphy worked as a sanitation worker in Staten Island, according to his Facebook page. He worked there since April 2001. Murphy attended St. Peter’s Boys High School in Staten Island.
In June 2014, Murphy was at the Dumbo location in Brooklyn of Big Ang’s bar empire “all the time” to try to keep it afloat, reported the New York Daily News. The venue closed in July 2014.
4. Murphy Said Ang Had the ‘Biggest Heart’ of Anyone He Ever Met
A Huffington Post article on Murphy prior to his debut in
Mob Wives had compared him to Niles Crane’s wife Maris on Frasier, a character who is often talked about but never seen. He told the Staten Island Advance in an interview in December 2015 that he and Ang had been together since 2007. Murphy described her has having the biggest heart of anyone he’d ever met. He added that she showed him a new world when they got together.
5. A Go Fund Me Page for Ang Had Raised $45,000 to Help Her Pay for Cancer Treatments
During her cancer fight, a Go Fund Me page had raised $45,000 to help Raiola’s family pay for her treatments. Her uncle was Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, a former captain in the Genovese crime family.
The statement announcing her death read:
It is with sad regret that we inform you that at 3:01 a.m. Angela Raiola peacefully ended her battle with cancer, and was called home.
She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family, and closest friends. YOU, (Her fans) were some of the most special people in the world, and she loved you immensely. Thank you for your love, prayers, and unconditional support of Angela right to the very end.
She truly went out richer than any monetary value could ever amount to. The family asks for privacy, and peace during this most difficult time. In typical Big Ang fashion we know she would say “Love you my babies!” This page will remain open as a celebration of who she was and will always be. It has been my esteemed privilege, and honor to represent her in the highest regard via social media.”