Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

'Mob Wives' Star Angela 'Big Ang' Raiola Dies at 55 After Cancer Battle

by Erik Ortiz /

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Angela Raiola, the brassy New York barkeep known as "Big Ang" on the reality TV series "Mob Wives," died early Thursday after battling brain, throat and lung cancer, the show's producer said. She was 55.

Raiola "passed peacefully surrounded by friends and family," Jennifer Graziano, executive producer of the VH1 series, said in a statement. "Her presence brought sheer happiness to anyone that was around her and I am honored to have called her a friend."

Her death was also announced on her official Twitter account by her friend, Vinnie Medugno. He honored her in a tweet quoting her playful personality: "I'm not here for a long time, I'm here for a good time!"

Raiola was initially diagnosed with throat cancer in March 2015. It spread to her brain and lung.

Even as she fought the disease, the native New Yorker remained the candid, colorful figure that viewers came to know on "Mob Wives" and its two reality spinoffs, "Big Ang" and "Miami Monkey." Family members — including her son, Anthony, and her sister, Janine — were among those who joined in her TV fame.

"I'm not here for a long time, I'm here for a good time!"

During a pre-taped segment on the "Dr. Oz" show that aired Tuesday, Raiola — nicknamed Big Ang for her nearly 6-foot height — told Mehmet Oz she was trying to keep her spirits up as chemotherapy and radiation failed to check the disease.

She had already undergone several surgeries, and her trademark flowing black hair was gone, replaced by a short, blond cut.

"I look at my kids and my grandchildren and I know how much they need me," said Raiola, speaking in her trademark husky voice. She lived with her daughter Raquel's family on Staten Island, where Raiola had run the Drunken Monkey bar before it closed.

In this July 8, 2012, file photo, Angela Raiola, known as Big Ang, and her dog Little Louie arrive to the premiere of her VH1 reality show "Big Ang" in New York.Charles Sykes / AP

She wasn't technically a mob wife: Raiola's inclusion on the cable show's second season in 2012 came courtesy of her uncle, the late Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, a reputed captain of the Genovese crime family.

A cigarette smoker for 40 years, Raiola said she stopped immediately after her first cancer diagnosis last year. Her doctors told her the disease was "positively" caused by smoking, she said, and she called for people to quit the habit or resist picking it up.

Her sister and brother-in-law were key members of her support team, Raiola told Oz, but she said her husband, Neil Murphy, was no longer part of her life.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The other stars of "Mob Wives," which is currently in its sixth season, shared their condolences on Twitter:

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
  • Contributors
  • The Associated Press
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.