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James Caan, beloved actor and former MSU student, dies at 82

July 7, 2022
<p>Michigan State University&#x27;s Spartan Stadium photographed on Aug. 23, 2019.</p>

Michigan State University's Spartan Stadium photographed on Aug. 23, 2019.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Beloved actor and former Michigan State student James Caan died last night at the age of 82. The news was made public in an announcement by his family through Caan’s personal Twitter account.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” they said in a statement. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

Before Caan graced the big screen, he was a student-athlete at MSU who studied economics and played football under legendary head coach Duffy Daugherty in 1956. After his year in East Lansing, he moved out to New York to pursue his acting career.

His breakout role came in 1972 when he starred as Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather", which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He then went on to have an illustrious film career, starring in movies such as “Thief”, “El Dorado”, “The Gambler”, “Misery”, and the holiday classic “Elf.”

Caan returned to campus in 1977 to see the premiere of his movie “Another Man, Another Chance” at Fairchild Theatre and in 1997 when he served as the grand marshall in the homecoming parade.

He remains one of MSU's most famous former students, and will forever be remembered as a cultural icon whose acclaimed filmography will remain a pillar of Hollywood history.

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