'Never Known A Kinder Person': Actor Nick Cordero Dies Of COVID-19 At 41

Jul 6, 2020
Originally published on July 6, 2020 1:15 pm

Tall and lanky, Nick Cordero played a variety of tough guys on Broadway – a 1920s gangster in Bullets Over Broadway, an abusive husband in Waitress, and a mobster who takes a young boy under his wing in the musical version of Chazz Palmantieri's A Bronx Tale. He died on Sunday at the age of 41, his wife, Amanda Kloots, announced on Instagram.

Kloots, a dancer and fitness instructor, detailed the ups and downs of her husband's medical condition on her Instagram page where more than 450,000 followers helped to promote a GoFundMe to help pay for his hospital bills. It raised almost $800,000. The page became a place of hope for Cordero's many fans, who Kloots encouraged to sing a song he'd written, "Live Your Life."

Cordero had been in Los Angeles in March, working on an immersive production of Rock of Ages, when he developed symptoms of pneumonia. He was admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was diagnosed with COVID-19, put into an induced coma and placed on a ventilator. He was given blood thinners but developed clots and had his right leg amputated. He also underwent dialysis, was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, was given a temporary pacemaker, had mini-strokes and sepsis, and lost more than 60 pounds. Kloots told Gayle King on CBS This Morning in early July that Cordero's lungs were so damaged he'd likely need a double lung transplant to survive.

Cordero was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1978. He came to the U.S. to star in a musical called The Toxic Avenger. He was cast in the national tour of Rock of Ages and joined the Broadway production in 2012. Two years later, he played a mobster with playwrighting skills in the stage adaptation of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, where he became friends with actor Zach Braff.

Cordero, his wife and son were staying at Braff's guest house in L.A., when Cordero fell ill. On Sunday, Braff posted on Instagram: "I have honestly never known a kinder person. But Covid doesn't care about the purity of your soul, or the goodness in your heart. The last thing he ever texted me was to look out for his wife and one year old son, Elvis. I promise the world they will never want for anything. I feel so incredibly grateful I got to have Nick Cordero enter my life. Rest In Peace. Rest in Power."

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Broadway is mourning Tony Award-nominated actor Nick Cordero. He lost his three-month-long battle with the coronavirus on Sunday. His wife announced his death on Instagram. Cordero was 41. Jeff Lunden has this appreciation.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: Tall and lanky, Nick Cordero was best known for playing tough guys. He played a 1920s gangster in "Bullets Over Broadway," for which he received a Tony nomination...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSICAL, "BULLETS OVER BROADWAY")

NICK CORDERO: (As Cheech, singing) Tain't nobody's business if I do.

LUNDEN: ...An abusive husband in "Waitress..."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSICAL, "WAITRESS")

CORDERO: (As Earl, singing) Til the end of time.

LUNDEN: ...And a mobster in "A Bronx Tale."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSICAL, "A BRONX TALE")

CORDERO: (As Sonny, singing) And this one could be one of the great ones.

JERRY ZAKS: As a person, Nick was all heart and all concerned about the other guy, you know, which also informed his acting.

LUNDEN: Jerry Zaks directed Nick Cordero in "A Bronx Tale" on Broadway.

ZAKS: It's one thing to be a tough guy. It's another thing to be a tough guy that the audience cares about, and the audience cared about him because that big heart informed all those so-called tough guys. So what you got was a human being.

LUNDEN: The Canadian-born actor was in Los Angeles in March when he began displaying symptoms of pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with COVID-19 and put in an induced coma. His wife Amanda Kloots detailed his medical tribulations in her Instagram account and includes reposted fans and friends singing her husband's song, "Live Your Life."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIVE YOUR LIFE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) 'Cause it's all right. Live your life.

LUNDEN: That's from a video of Broadway actors performing the song. Cordero went through an inordinate number of complications. His right leg was amputated. He suffered mini strokes and lost over 60 pounds. And while he came off the ventilator in May, giving his followers hope, the damage to his lungs was serious enough that Kloots recently told CBS that he'd need a double lung transplant to survive. Diane Paulus directed Cordero in "Waitress."

DIANE PAULUS: He was full of life and light. He was funny. He made everybody feel at ease. He was that company member who lifted everyone's spirits.

LUNDEN: Under normal circumstances, Broadway would be dimming its lights in Nick Cordero's memory. But it's going to be a long time before the lights go back on.

For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIVE YOUR LIFE")

CORDERO: (Singing) And it's all right. Live your life. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.