Legendary Actor James Caan Dead at 82, Family Says

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Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Actors James Caan and his son Scott Caan arrive at the premiere of "Mercy" at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California on May 3, 2010.

Actor James Caan has died at 82, his family says. He is survived by his five children, including four sons and a daughter. Caan, best known for “The Godfather,” “Brian’s Song,” “Misery” and “Elf,” was married four times. His cause of death has not been made public.

A statement posted on his official Twitter account on July 7, 2022, reads, “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

1. James Caan Was Born in the Bronx, New York, as the Son of Jewish Immigrants From Germany

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GettyAmerican actor James Caan on the set of the film ‘Rollerball’, in which he plays the hero Jonathan E., UK, August 1974.

James Caan was born March 26, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to Sophie Falkenstein Caan and Arthur Caan, who were both Jewish immigrants from Germany, according to a 2006 article in Cigar Aficiando. He was one of three siblings along with his sister, Barbara, and brother, Ronnie, and grew up in Queens, according to The Guardian. His father was a kosher butcher.

“We didn’t have a shop,” he told The Guardian in 2019. “My dad was a middleman, humping sides of meat from trucks to restaurants. … I learned about things like respect and loyalty.”

He added that he wished his sons had gone through what he did as a child, “Because it wasn’t tough as such, but it could be scary getting your a** kicked out into the schoolyard with 100 other kids and learning how to win and lose, when to push and not to push, you know. It’s the stuff of life, and my kids don’t know shit about it because they’re pampered to oblivion.”

He told the late Roger Ebert in 1988, “”Sometimes,” he said, “it takes tragedies in your life to make you realize certain things. I lost my sister to leukemia. She was my best friend. I had a health problem at one time. My dad was real sick. It was awful. I got into drugs a little bit, but for me, a little bit is too much. For someone else, it’s nothing, but for me, a beer is too much. I hear stories about myself, and I think, if I had done half of these things they say I did, I would have had a ball. When all of that bad stuff happened, I realized the most important word is passion. I don’t care if it’s eating, playing tennis, making love. You have to care. And how could I care about the nature of movies at that time – all those pictures with kids in them, that I couldn’t force myself to do. So I said, whatever integrity I got left, I’m going out with it.”

2. Caan Was Married 4 Times, Most Recently to Linda Stokes From 1995 Until Their Divorce in 2017

james caan wife

GettyActor James Caan and his then-wife Linda Stokes arrives at the premiere of MGM’s “Rocky Balboa” at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California.

Caan was married four times. He was most recently married to Linda Stokes from 1995 until their divorce in 2017. He and Linda split up three times during their tumultuous marriage, according to E! News.

According to E!, Caan was previously married to Dee Jay Mathis from 1960 to 1966, to Sheila Marie Ryan from 1976 to 1977 and to Ingrid Hajek from 1990 to 1995.

Caan joked during a 2003 interview with Esquire, “What’s the difference between sex and love? I have four wives and five kids. I apparently don’t know the difference.”

His son, Scott, told the Los Angeles Times in 2010, “He’s obviously had some failed attempts at marriages. But there’s a lot of people that do that and they go, “I’m never doing that again.” My dad is a good example of someone who digs into life and goes, “Yeah, that tore my heart out, but I’m going to try again.” The elder Caan added, “That’s true. If I got to the point that I didn’t feel that existed, I’d kill myself. Even no matter how old I am, I still believe that exists.”

3. Caan’s Son, Scott Caan, Followed His Footsteps Into a Hollywood Acting Career

One of Caan’s five children, Scott Caan, followed his footsteps into an acting career in Hollywood. The younger Caan was from James’ marriage to Sheila Ryan Caan. He was born in 1976. Scott Caan has starred as “Danno” on CBS’ “Hawaii Five-O” reboot and also had a memorable role in “Ocean’s Eleven” and its sequels.

Scott Caan told Theater Mania in 2012, “No I definitely didn’t want to act at first. And my dad discouraged it. He didn’t want me to be in this business. He wanted me to play baseball. I was just into anything that kept me out of a classroom, and I just wanted to get involved with creative endeavors, like being in a band. I’ve always been able to try things, and to meet people who I could learn from.”

He told Outside Left Screen in 2005, when asked if his last name helped his career, “You know, I‚ look, I’ve heard this all day long and I’ve heard the question asked every possible way, but my father‚ he raised me right, you know what I mean? And all I can give him credit for is my personal self.”

4. He Has 3 Other Sons, James Arthur Caan, Jacob Caan & Alexander Caan, & a Daughter, Tara Caan

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GettyJames Caan with his son, James Arthur Caan.

James Caan is survived by three other sons, including Alexander Caan, who was born in 1991 during his marriage to Ingrid Hajek, and James Arthur Caan, born in 1995, and Jacob Caan, born in 1998, with Stokes. Caan’s daughter, Tara Caan, was born in 1964, during his marriage to Dee Jay Mathis.

Caan told Esquire in 2003 he enjoyed being a coach when his kids were young, “I had great, great times as a Little League coach. People were talking about me quitting acting, and they would say, ‘What about your creative juices?’ Coaching is creative, because you could take a kid who thought he wasn’t any good and, within four minutes, change his mind. And I didn’t have to wait six months for them to put music to it.”

5. Caan Is Also Survived by His 4 Grandchildren

Along with his five kids, James Caan is also survived by four grandchildren. His daughter, Tara, has three children. Scott Caan and his partner, Kacy Byxbee, have a daughter, Josie James Caan, born in 2014.

James Caan told Esquire in 2003, “I never saw my dad cry. My son saw me cry. My dad never told me he loved me, and consequently I told Scott I loved him every other minute. The point is, I’ll make less mistakes than my dad, my sons hopefully will make less mistakes than me, and their sons will make less mistakes than their dads. And one of these days, maybe we’ll raise a perfect Caan.”