The Only Major Actors Still Alive From The French Connection

One of the greatest crime movies of all time, "The French Connection" is William Friedkin's gritty drama based on a true story. Gene Hackman stars as Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, a no-nonsense, rule-breaking cop who gets caught up investigating a case in which the Italian mob is bringing drugs into America with the help of a French heroin-smuggling syndicate. But this isn't an open-and-shut case. The lawmen are seemingly foiled at every turn, and things end on a shocking, bleak note. It's an amazing movie with one of the best chase sequences ever captured on film. "The French Connection" was released nearly 53 years ago, which means many of its cast members have left us, along with director Friedkin, who died last year. But a few are still around. So here are the only major actors still alive from "The French Connection."

Gene Hackman (Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle)

One of the best to ever do it, Gene Hackman is retired and 94 years old, but thankfully still with us. In the late 1950s, Hackman began studying acting. He appeared in plays and various bit roles in films. His big movie break almost came in 1967 when he was cast as Mr. Robinson in "The Graduate." However, he was fired by director Mike Nichols for being too young for the part. Finally, Hackman broke out in the movies in a big way when he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for playing Buck Barrow in 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde." He would go on to find even bigger stardom in the 1970s, and it was "The French Connection" that truly launched him to stardom — he took home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle. Hackman continued acting through the decades, appearing in titles such as "The Conversation" (1974), "Night Movies" (1975), "Reds" (1981), "Hoosiers" (1986), "Crimson Tide" (1995), "The Birdcage" (1996), and many more. He won his second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance as brutal lawman "Little" Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven," released in 1992. His last on-screen performance was in 2004's "Welcome to Mooseport," but if you want to go ahead and pretend it was in 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums," a more fitting send-off to a great career, we won't blame you.

Tony Lo Bianco (Sal Boca)

The only other surviving member of the main "French Connection" cast is 87-year-old Tony Lo Bianco, who played mobster Sal Boca. A film, stage, and television actor, Lo Bianco began his acting career on stage, appearing in Broadway productions in the 1960s. He made the jump to film at the end of the '60s, with "The French Connection" being his third-credited feature film. He would go on to appear in "Seprico" (1973), "The Seven-Ups" (1973), and "God Told Me To" (1976). Other notable credits include Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (1995), the parody film "Mafia!" (1998), and TV shows like "Walker, Texas Ranger," and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." His most recent credit is 2022's "Somewhere in Queens."