The Godfather star James Caan dies aged 82

James Caan, who starred in The Godfather films, has died at the age of 82, his family have confirmed.

The American actor, who was Oscar-nominated in 1973 for his performance as Sonny Corleone – the hot-headed on-screen son of Marlon Brando’s character, died on Wednesday evening.

The 1972 classic crime saga, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, also stars Al Pacino and Diane Keaton.

A statement on Twitter said: “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.”

The veteran actor’s other notable credits include playing terminal cancer-stricken Chicago Bears footballer Brian Piccolo in sporting drama Brian’s Song, which saw him earn an Emmy nomination for outstanding single performance by an actor in a leading role in 1972.

Caan also starred in 2003 family comedy Elf, playing Will Ferrell’s on-screen biological father Walter Hobbs, as well as psychological thriller Misery, action film Thief, and crime hit The Gambler.

Other appearances include Honeymoon In Vegas, Bulletproof and Mickey Blue Eyes.

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James Caan, centre, with Mark Wahlberg, left, and Joaquin Phoenix (Toby Melville/PA)

Caan was born in March 1940 in the Bronx in New York and initially fancied a career in American football before becoming interested in acting during his time at university.

His break-out role came in The Godfather, which also saw him nominated for best supporting actor at the Golden Globes.

The actor was married four times – to Dee Jay Mattis, Sheila Ryan, Ingrid Hajek and most recently Linda Stokes.

He is survived by his five children – Tara, Scott, Alexander James, James Arthur and Jacob Nicholas Caan.

Scott followed in his father’s footsteps, appearing in Ocean’s Eleven, Gone In 60 Seconds and the Hawaii Five-0 reboot.