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Richard J. Bright (June 28, 1937 – February 18, 2006) was an Americanmarker actor best known for his role as Al Neri in the The Godfather films.

Early life & work

Bright was born in Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker, the son of Matilda (née Scott) and Ernest Bright, who was a shipbuilder.


Bright began his career doing live television in Manhattanmarker, at the age of 18, and made his film debut in Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) He also worked on several movies early in his career with his friend, Sam Peckinpah.

In 1965, Bright starred in poet Michael McClure's two-person show, The Beard, performing in Londonmarker, New Yorkmarker, Los Angelesmarker, and San Franciscomarker, where, upon closing every night, he and his female co-star Billie Dixon were arrested for uttering obscenities and simulating sexual acts. The ACLU represented Bright, citing First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. In the end, the charges against Bright were dismissed.

He had supporting parts in The Getaway (1972) (as a con man who tries to ply his trade on Ali MacGraw), and costarred in The Panic in Needle Park (1971) playing Al Pacino's brother Hank.

In 1972, he appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of The Godfather as Al Neri, one of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)'s caporegimes. At the end of the first film, his character, dressed as a police officer, murders rival mob boss Emilio Barzini and his henchmen during the film's famous baptism scene. Bright also played Neri in both of that film's two sequels, in which he murdered both Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) at the end of The Godfather Part II, and also the Vatican banker, Archbishop Gilday, at the end of The Godfather Part III.

Bright played another hired killer, Chicken Joe, in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Other roles include Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974; uncredited), Rancho Deluxe (1975), Marathon Man (1976), Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), the film adaptation of Hair (1979), The Idolmaker (1980) and Beautiful Girls (1995).

Bright continued to make a number of low budget, independent films. He was erroneously reported by the Video Hound Movie Guide as having died in 1998. He continued working on stage and in television, appearing on such shows as Law & Order, Oz, Third Watch, and The Sopranos. These later performances showed Bright using an oxygen tank in all these appearances (although he suffered from Emphysema, the tanks were for the characters). Bright was fond of Shakespeare and was noted for his performance as the title character in Richard III.


Bright was struck and killed by a tour bus on the Upper West Sidemarker in Manhattan on February 18, 2006. He was hit by the rear wheel of the bus and killed instantly, according to detectives and witnesses. The driver was unaware of the accident until he was notified upon reaching the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan. Police interviewed the driver at the bus terminal. Ultimately, no criminal charges were filed, though the bus driver's license was suspended for failing to yield the right-of-way to Bright, who had been in a marked crosswalk at the time he was struck.

Bright was 68 years old. He was survived by his wife Rutanya Alda, son Jeremy, daughter Dianne, and brother Charles.


  1. Richard Bright Biography (1937-)

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