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'The Capones' cast member passes away

“The Capones” cast member and Elmwood Park resident Madeline Santarelli passed away Monday due to stage 4 liver and lung cancer, according to Cara Leopardo, co-creator of Reelz's "The Capones." A spokesman for Reelz confirmed the news of Santarelli's death. She was 35 years old.

“The Capones” premiered Jan. 28 and stars Dominic Capone -- who co-owns Capone's Restaurant and Pizzeria in Lombard and claims his great, great grandfather was the uncle of notorious gangster Al Capone -- and his inner circle. Santarelli was nicknamed “Cherry Lips” on the series and was described as Dominic’s long time friend and possible ex-girlfriend. Santarelli was given a job working at Capone's in the first episode of the show.

"I can tell you Madeline was one of a kind," said Leopardo, who knew Santarelli since childhood, by email Tuesday. "She made everyone who ever met her laugh. She had a heart of gold. ... Anyone you speak to about her could tell you that she was one of those rare souls that was naturally funny, like a female John Candy.

"Ever since Madeline was a child, she always wanted to be famous and be on TV. ... It's powerful to know she did it and reached her dreams and I'm honored I was part of it."

Leopardo said Santarelli was diagnosed with cancer in November. She added that Santarelli will be cremated but will not have a funeral service, as per the family's wishes.

“Today we lost our friend and cast member to liver cancer,” Dominic tweeted. “Madeleine Santarelli you will be missed by us.”

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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