James Caan, whose remarkable performances in The Godfather, Elf and Misery made him an on-screen icon, had his cause of death released by the Los Angeles County Coroner.

Caan, 82, died earlier this month of a heart attack and coronary heart disease earlier, according to the county report.

His family announced his death earlier in July on the actor’s official Twitter account.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” the tweet reads. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and sincere condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

After a decade in the business, Caan shot to fame in the early 1970s with back-to-back signing roles. He earned an Emmy nomination as Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo on ABC Brian’s Song, alongside Billy Dee Williams as Bears running back Gale Sayers. The heartbreaking tale of the hard-forged friendship between the NFL’s first interracial roommates was the most-watched TV movie at that time, with a 32.9 rating/48 share and winning five Emmys, including a one-off program. Outstanding – Drama or Comedy.

In a 2011 interview with the Television Academy Foundation (watch it here), Emmy-winning Brian’s Song Screenwriter William Blinn said, “Jimmy’s Jimmy. He always had an arrogance, a confidence. Very competitive. Pissed off, in the best sense of the word. But he’s a guy with all the pros and cons you can have.

Robert Duvall and Caan in “The Godfather”

Caan followed that success with his best-known role: the fiery, violent and vengeful Sonny Corleone, eldest son of Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), in Francis Ford Coppola. The Godfather. The film based on Mario Puzo’s bestseller won the Oscar for Best Picture and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. Caan’s on-screen death amid a hail of bullets is also considered one of cinema’s best.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.



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