Law enforcement officials told TMZ his death appeared to be caused by a drug overdose. His niece found him unresponsive on the couch of his Manhattan home early Saturday morning. She called 911, and police found a white powdery substance near his body. Police believe the substance was narcotics.
About 130 people die from an opioid overdose every day in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Actor Brian Tarantina Had Been Ill in the Days Leading up to his Death
Actor Brian Tarantina had been ill in the days leading up to his death, and spent time in the hospital for a heart-related issue, according to PEOPLE.
“Brian had been ill lately,” a representative for Tarantina told PEOPLE. “He was recently in the hospital and was in the process of recuperating from what I believe to be a heart-related issue.”
The New York Police Department gave a statement to the Mirror saying they responded to a call for an unresponsive person early in the morning Saturday, November 2, 2019.
“On Saturday, 2 November, 2019 at approximately 0040 hours, police responded to a 911 call of an unconscious male,” the statement said. “Upon arrival, officers observed a 60-year-old male, unconscious and unresponsive, fully-clothed, on his couch. EMS responded to the location and pronounced the aided male deceased at the scene (his residence). The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation remains ongoing.”
2. Some Outlets Report Tarantina Died of an Apparent Drug Overdose
Several outlets are reporting Brian Tarantina died of a drug overdose. His official cause of death has not been released. He was found unresponsive in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 2, 2019.
“Our sources say Brian’s niece went to check in on him at his Hell’s Kitchen residence at around 12:30 AM, and discovered her uncle unresponsive on the couch,” TMZ reported. “We’re told the niece told cops she’d last talked to him late Tuesday night. Upon finding him, she called 911, and we’re told when officers and paramedics arrived … they found a white powdery substance near his body, believed to be alleged narcotics. He was pronounced dead on the scene.”
Tarantina lived in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York. He was born and raised in the city. He was born on March 27, 1957 in New York City, according to his IMDB bio.
3. Brian Tarantina Began Acting in the 1980s & Became Known for his Film Roles
Brian Tarantina got his start in acting in the 1980s. His film career began with movies including Jacob’s Ladder, Donnie Brasco, Uncle Buck and Summer of Sam.
His debut came in Brian Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club in 1984, according to the Irish Mirror.
One of his most recent popular films was The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Tarantina also made a name for himself in television. He landed roles on many popular TV shows including Gilmore Girls and The Black Donnellys, Heroes, Law & Order and The Good Wife.
“Brian Tarantina was born on March 27, 1959 in New York City, New York, USA,” said his bio on IMDB. “He is an actor, known for Summer of Sam (1999), Knight and Day (2010) and Uncle Buck (1989).”
The bio added he enjoyed playing pool and black jack, and he was a New York Yankees fan.
The site considered his most well-known role to be Geno in The Jerky Boys, which was released in 1995. He played a gangster and client of Ernie Lazzaro (Alan Arkin).
4. Brian Tarantina’s Most Recent Role Was in The Kitchen
Brian Tarantina acted alongside Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen, in a role that would become his last. The movie is a mob drama which follows the wives of New York gangsters.
“Nabbed by the FBI during a liquor-store holdup, their husbands get sent to prison for three years, and Kathy, Ruby, and Claire are told by the local Irish gang that they’re ‘family’ and will be well taken care of,” a Variety review said. “But the first envelope of cash that each of the women receives won’t even cover the rent. They’re forced into crime, just as the heroines of ‘Widows’ were, by the sheer blunt economic desperation of their circumstances — though in this case one might well ask why Little Jackie (Myk Watford), the local boss, is so damn stingy, given that the mob does tend to look after their own. I guess the idea is that it’s the late ’70s and the protection payoffs are thin, but mostly it’s that Jackie is a villain out of central casting, not just a crook but a vile meanie, the sort of sneering scumbucket who lives in a man’s world and doesn’t want to look after women or children any more than he has to. (The chivalry of the Italian mob, at least as it’s often portrayed in the movies, is markedly absent.)”
The movie was released August 8, 2019. Tarantina played Burns in the movie.
5. 130 People Die Every Day in the United States from Opioid Overdoses
While Brian Tarantina’s official cause of death has not yet been released, some outlets are reporting he died of an apparent drug overdose. Opioid overdoses are a continuing problem, and every day 130 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids,” the website says. “The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.”
Between 21 and 29 percent of people who are prescribed opioids for pain treatment become addicted and begin to misuse the pills, the institute reported. Overdose death rates increased steadily since 1999, and spiked in 2015. The total number of overdose deaths reached 70,237 in 2017, according to graphs shared by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“This issue has become a public health crisis with devastating consequences including increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy,” the website said. “The increase in injection drug use has also contributed to the spread of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis C. As seen throughout the history of medicine, science can be an important part of the solution in resolving such a public health crisis.”