Danny Aiello will always be remembered for his roles in the Oscar-nominated films Moonstruck and Do the Right Thing, but fans of a certain era will also never forget his short stint as a music video star. With Aiello’s death at age 86 now making headlines, fans are recalling his role in Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” video.
In 1986, the movie icon played Madonna’s father in the music video for her True Blue single. In the video, Aiello is a single dad who becomes heartbroken when he finds out his teen daughter is pregnant. When Madonna finally tells her dad she’s keeping her baby, she urges him not to stop loving her. The video ends with the father and daughter hugging after Aiello’s character’s initial shock and disappointment.
At the time it was released, the song made headlines for its controversial storyline, with some groups claiming it glorified teen pregnancy and others embracing its pro-life message.
Fans of Aiello recently took to social media to pay tribute to his memorable portrayal of Madonna’s dad in the “Papa Don’t Preach” video.
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton took to Twitter to say he will always “cherish” Aiello’s music video role.
“Danny Aiello did so much in his career!” Hilton tweeted. “He was even nominated for an Academy Award! But, growing up gay in the ’80s and being the biggest Madonna fan, I will always remember and cherish him for his role in her music video for ‘Papa Don’t Preach’! Iconic!!”
Many other fans recalled Aiello as the upset Italian dad in the famous “Papa Don’t Preach” music video. Some fans felt he wasn’t recognized enough for his part in the video, while others felt the unlikely music video cameo was the late star’s signature role, despite all of his critically acclaimed movie work.
lotta tributes gonna be rolling in but let's not forget Danny Aiello's truly, and I don't use this word often, iconic role in the papa don't preach music video— nuanced opinion guy (@charles_kinbote) December 13, 2019
Any tribute to Danny Aiello that doesn't include the "Papa Don't Preach" video cannot be taken seriously.— Brown "Calling 'Yoo hoo!'" Anthony™ (@anthelonious) December 13, 2019
So many roles, but for me he'll always be Madonna's father in the music video of Papa Don't Preach. RIP Danny Aiello.— Limonite (@Limonite78) December 13, 2019
Danny Aiello should have won an Oscar for the Papa Don't Preach video. RIP.— Todd Waldman (@summeroftears) December 13, 2019
Danny Aiello never got enough recognition for his role as “papa” in the unforgettable video for Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach.— Marlena Bittner (@lenabitts) December 13, 2019
In a 2011 interview with AXS TV, Aiello admitted that Madonna’s then-husband Sean Penn approached him to do the music video and that he only did it at the urging of his daughter.
“I had no idea who [Madonna] was,” Aiello admitted. He said his daughter Stacey begged him to do the job, which paid a mere $480, and he agreed under the condition that his daughter would be permitted on the set to take pictures with Madonna.
But after the video shoot was complete, Aiello recalled, “Madonna sort of backed up and told her representative ‘I don’t do that.'”
The actor revealed that his daughter “hated” Madonna after the incident, and he even added of the video, “I’m a movie actor doing this piece of crap!”
Still, Aiello’s appearance in the “Papa Don’t Preach” music video also spawned his own interest in singing professionally. He went on to record several albums after working with the Material Girl, according to NPR.
Madonna is currently performing in her Madame X show and has not appeared to publicly respond to the death of her “Papa Don’t Preach” dad.