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Late actor Paul Sorvino and wife Dee Dee Benkie announced their elopement in 2015 and shared a small piece of their love story with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto after first meeting in the green room during separate appearances on the network.
Sorvino, known for his roles in “Goodfellas” and “Law & Order,” died at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday from natural causes. He was 83.
The Hollywood icon, who was a regular on the Fox channels, returned to “Your World with Neil Cavuto” in January 2015 with news that he was officially a married man once again following a surprise wedding in New York with his bride, Dee Dee, the political strategist.
Cavuto introduced the pair who “started as guests on my Fox business show” before declaring: “They just tied the knot, and no one knew about it, right?”
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“We eloped standing in front of the fountain at Lincoln Center where I have sung at the MET, and I have sung at the New York City Opera,” he told Cavuto.
“No one in your family knew?” Cavuto confirmed. “How do they feel now?”
Dee Dee quickly responded: “They are happy.”
“The plan was, if we told one person, we’d have to tell everybody,” Paul said. “As soon as the ceremony was over, I started calling my family and telling them.”
Cavuto joked: “Funny, you never called me. You know, it’s so weird… I hooked you up. Not even a call or anything!”
Dee Dee laughed while confirming it was the journalist who first sparked their love match. “You’re responsible, ya!”
Paul remembered seeing Dee Dee in the green room as they expected to appear separately on different time slots, a sight he would never forget.
“I saw her … she was wearing this beautiful, blue dress and she had an aura around her,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. What I saw, what it was … I said, ‘Oh my god.’ I said, ‘This is gonna be it for me.'”
Their first date at the famous Del Frisco’s steakhouse was equally as memorable.
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Sorvino recalled an instant connection with Dee Dee, a former political aide to President George W. Bush, during the romantic evening, and even placing his arm around Dee Dee during the dinner.
“At a certain part, I realized she didn’t hate me,” he joked, while she added: “He was laying it on thick.”
When Cavuto asked Dee Dee why she chose Paul, her answer came easily.
“He’s the true renaissance man,” she said, adding that he’s a “wonderful cook, very sweet, so smart, he sings, plays the piano…”
She liked that he was “a little older,” and she said her family back home in Indiana was equally excited to welcome him into their lives.
Sorvino recalled how he pursued Dee Dee for a year, something he had “never done” before, and after the performance of “King Lear” he searched for her in the audience only to give her a big kiss in public.
They recreated the kiss on air and giggled for the cameras.
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“Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life, and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and stage,” Dee Dee said in a statement about her husband’s death on Monday.
“I am completely devastated,” she wrote separately on Twitter. “The love of my life & the most wonderful man who has ever lived is gone. I am heartbroken.”
Sorvino was also a father to three children from his first marriage, including Mira, 54, an Academy Award winner. He also directed and starred in a film written by his daughter, Amanda Sorvino, which featured his son, Michael Sorvino.
“My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed,” the actress tweeted. “My heart is rent asunder- a life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over. He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I’m sending you love in the stars Dad as you ascend.”
He was proud of Mira as she rose to Hollywood stardom and cried when she won the best supporting actress Oscar for “Mighty Aphrodite” in 1996. He told the Los Angeles Times that night that he didn’t have the words to express how he felt seeing her win the most coveted award for actors.
“They don’t exist in any language that I’ve ever heard — well, maybe Italian,” he said.
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