Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, the reality TV star who rose to fame on the VH1 series Mob Wives, has passed away on Thursday after nearly a year-long battle with lung and brain cancer at the age of 55, leaving behind a net worth of nearly $15 million.
The news of Raiola’s death was confirmed to her fans via a tweet posted “on behalf of the family” from Vinnie Medugno on her official Twitter account, which said that Raiola had “peacefully ended her battle with cancer.” Medugno occasionally appeared on the reality show.
— Angela Raiola (@biggangVH1) February 18, 2016
Tributes have poured in for Raiola on social media from the cast of The Mob Wives and fellow reality TV personalities.
— Mob Wives (@MobWivesSupport) February 18, 2016
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) February 18, 2016
— Jenelle Evans (@PBandJenelley_1) February 18, 2016
— Vanassa J. Sebastian (@VanassaJSeb) February 16, 2016
— Teresa Giudice (@Teresa_Giudice) February 18, 2016
The VH1 series began in 2011 and features women on Staten Island connected to men alleged to have mob ties. According to official site of the network, Raiola’s connection to the world of crime was through her uncle, the late Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi, reported to be the captain of the Genovese crime family.
Angela Raiola, known for her raspy voice, large stature and love of plastic surgery, instantly became a popular member of the Mob Wives cast. Her success on the series led to the VH1 spinoff, “Big Ang,” from which she began to be known as Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, or simply “Big Ang.”
Raiola was diagnosed with throat cancer in March, 2015, which later spread to her brain and lung as well. She revealed the news to her fans via Facebook, encouraging them to take care of their personal well-being.
“Always look after yourselves and don’t neglect your health. I’m fortunate and blessed to have discovered something very early, and handle it in a positive manner. I thank you and I love you all from the bottom of my heart.”
Raiola opened up about her battle with cancer in an appearance in a February, 2016, episode of the Dr. Oz Show. In an emotional interview, she said her family was what kept her going through the difficult times.
“I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me,” Raiola told the host. She also revealed that she had been declared cancer-free twice, only to have the disease return and spread to other parts of her body. “Sometimes I feel I’m gonna be fine, and sometimes I just don’t think I am,” Raiola said in a tearful interview.
Raiola also admitted that she had been smoking cigarettes for 40 years, which her doctors attributed as the cause of her disease. Raiola clarified that she straightaway quit smoking after her diagnosis, and pleaded others also to quit smoking or stop themselves from starting in the first place.
In the show, Angela Raiola also said that her sister Janine Detore and brother-in-law had been supporting her during her illness, before going on to add that her husband, Neil Murphy, was no longer part of her life.
Funeral arrangements are known to be pending as of Thursday morning. Besides her sister, Angela Raiola is survived by her son, Anthony Donofrio; daughter, Raquel Donofrio; and two grandchildren.
[Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images]