The majority of individuals lead quiet, unassuming lives, but you can’t help but run into those people with outsized personalities. One such individual was Angela Raiola.
I’m not sure how many of you remember Angela, but she will always be known to me as “Big Ang” in the VH1 series “Mob Wives.”Sadly, the flamboyant entertainer passed away at the young age of 55 following a grueling cancer fight.
In her final interview before her death in 2016, Angela revealed a tragic truth and cautioned others against making the same grave error she did.
After making her reality television debut in 2012, Angela “Big Ang” Raiola won the audience over with her raspy voice and brazen manner. She rose to fame during her three-year stint on “Mob Wives” thanks to her distinctive personality and outsized personality. It seemed inevitable that “Big Ang” would amuse us.
However, many who knew her said that she was also a really kind person who was good at recognizing everyone around her. When Angela passed away on February 18, 2016, the world lost more than just a beloved reality personality; she also devastated her sons and grandchildren.
But how did the “Mob Wives” star, who had enormous lips, a beautiful physique, and a husky voice, end up being one of the most well-liked reality television stars in America? Who was the woman behind all the plastic surgery and makeup?
In Brooklyn, New York, Angela Joyce Raiola was raised after being born there on June 30, 1960. As one of the “capos” or captains of the renowned Genovese criminal family, one of the “Five Families” who rule the mafia in New York City, she was also the niece of the late Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi.
The commander received a sentence of over 13 years in prison, while Raiola was charged with six felonies in May 2001. In 2003, the reality star entered a guilty plea and received a three-year probationary period.
”People ask me why I did it. I was a single mom, supporting my family, paying $3,000 in rent. I did it for the money. I wouldn’t do it again and haven’t since. I learned my lesson,” Angela said.
Raiola was also had to wear a monitor and be under home arrest for four months. That was a serious penalty, especially for someone like “Big Ang.”
”My girlfriends and family came by every day. That also made me feel less claustrophobic. But for someone like me who needs to be where the action is and loves to go out, being confined to one place was torture,” she explained.
Angela discussed her way of life and offered some guidance to people who were placed under house arrest in her book Bigger Is Better.
Her advice included getting a tattoo to commemorate the occasion, getting a personal trainer, hosting sleepovers, and bringing the celebration to you.
Even though Angela Raiola occasionally admitted to having a thing for dashing criminals, she remained honest when she rose to fame in “Mob Wives”.
Staten Island resident Raiola rose to fame with the cast of “Mob Wives” during its second season in 2012. She appeared on the program until its conclusion in 2016 and quickly rose to fame.
The Staten Island neighborhood of New York City served as the setting for the series, which was broadcast on VH1. The idea was devised by producer Jennifer “Jenn” Graziano, who all had ties to the Mafia. The show received positive reviews from critics after the first season’s premiere. According to Ken Tucker, a TV journalist for Entertainment Weekly:
”As someone who’s watched at least a few episodes of every version of the Real Housewives franchise and feels a bit nauseous about it, I didn’t come to Mob Wives with high hopes. But this floridly funny, vicariously vicious reality series exerts a vulgar charm.”
Not all of the critics were impressed.
”Tired concept, is so bad it should sleep with fishes,” the New York Daily News wrote.
But regardless of how viewers felt about the program as a whole, Angela “Big Ang” Raiola left a lasting impression and emerged as the most likeable of the mob wives. She was recognized by many as the lady on the show who was the most caring, lovely, and grounded.
Her own spin-off series, “Big Ang” in 2012 and “Miami Monkey” in 2013, were both produced as a result of her success. Nobody might be shocked to learn that Angela was a huge admirer of plastic surgery. After giving birth to her first child in 1985, she underwent her first surgery.
Angela was quite insecure about her physical appearance and felt she needed to take something. Many people thought she had entirely too much cosmetic surgery when she was in the spotlight. The charming Mob Wife admitted to being infatuated with plastic surgery and enjoying constant changes in her appearance as she neared the end of her life.
In early 2015, Angela started complaining of neck pain. She felt something wasn’t right and was admitted to a Staten Island hospital. Unfortunately, the doctors discovered a lemon-size tumor and removed it from her throat. Later that same year, the doctors found another tumor in her throat. She was also diagnosed with stage 4 brain and lung cancer.
”First I thought I was cancer free. I was going to have a big party. Then a month later I was stage 4,” Angela explained.
She kept showing up in “Mob Wives,” but it was obvious that she was in pain. She “dragged herself from her deathbed” during a reunion episode on February 13, 2016, and she was only present for two hours. In 2016, when Angela made an appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, she dropped a bombshell and disclosed that she had split up with her husband while battling cancer.
”I felt like he never stepped up to the plate, so I was done with it,” she said. “Now, it’s too late. I would rather be by myself. I would rather be alone.”
Dr. Oz also did the last public interview with ”Big Ang” before she died. The Dr. Oz Show host gave an insight into how the reality star felt during her last months in life.
“By the time she came on the show, she really had wanted to get things off her chest, to say things she knew she needed to say before the end, because she had weeks to months, not months to years left,” he said.
”The most important emotion I heard from Big Ang outside the show was fear — she was scared. I think she knew the end was grasping at her, that she was looking over the abyss of death, a darkness down there that we all fear, and she knew that it was close.”
Angela attended the program in part to warn viewers about a behavior that may have cost her her life: smoking cigarettes. She smoked for more than 40 years, averaging one pack a day, but she promptly quit after learning about her illness.
”I think the big legacy she’s leaving us, the big reason she came on the show, was to make sure everyone knew that cigarettes had taken her life,” Dr. Oz said.
“She started young, like so many, but like so many, by the time she realized she didn’t want to smoke anymore, it was too late to stop — at least she felt that way. And she joked on the show about how she got the diagnosis of throat cancer, and as she walked out of the hospital, she took the pack of cigarettes and tossed them in the trash. And she quit cold turkey, but it was a little late,” he added.
On February 18, 2016, ”Big Ang” passed peacefully at a Manhattan hospital, surrounded by friends and family.
“She was surrounded by nothing but love from her immediate family and closest friends,” a statement read. “YOU, (Her fans) were some of the most special people in her world, and she loved you immensely.”
Celebrities, cast members, friends, and family flooded social media with condolences as soon as word of her passing spread.
“Mob Wives” star and castmate Renee Graziano published a picture on Instagram of ”Big Ang” and wrote: ‘We will always love you .. Forever and ever Angela. You are part of our family #rip #withtheangels #inabetterplace. ‘RIP ANGELA .. FOREVER IN MY HEART’.
Heartbreaking images of the “Mob Wives” star being comforted by family members while on her deathbed were posted by certain family members. Her husband, Neil Murphy, who was apparently by her side when she passed away, posted a picture of him and his wife to Twitter.
”I will always love you forever please watch over the grandkids I know you will,” he wrote.
Of all the ladies on “Mob Wives,” Angela seemed to be the most devoted, affable, and sensible. She never pretended to be someone she wasn’t, constantly admitting she had made mistakes in the past. Everyone liked her because of the authenticity she possessed. Peace be with you.