Richard Bright began his career in the 1960s in live television and on the stage. It was during a stage production in San Francisco that the 28 year old actor and his female co-star were arrested for speaking obscenities and simulating sex acts. With guidance and assistance from the ACLU, a charges were dismissed when First Amendment Freedom of speech rights were cited. The case set a precedent for actors’rights.
In the 70s, Richard took roles in a number of popular film, including Panic in Needle Park in 1971 and The Getaway in 1972. He also landed the role for which he is best remembered, Al Neri, the cop turned hit man in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. His face was the final screen image at the conclusion of The Godfather. Richard was one of only five actors to appear in all three Godfather films.
He was an in-demand character actor thought the 80s and 90s, with parts in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Marathon Man and the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Hair. He also appeared on television on Law & Order, Oz, The Sopranos as well as a recurring role on the soap opera One Life to Live.
On February 18, 2006, Richard was waiting to cross a street in Manhattan’s busy Upper West Side. He was struck and killed by the rear wheel of a turning tour bus. The bus driver was unaware of the accident until he arrived at the Port Authority depot. Although the driver’s operator license was suspended, no criminal charges were filed.
Richard Bright was 68.