Mob Wives Star Big Ang, 55, Died While Fighting Cancer

Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, star of the VH1 reality series "Mob Wives," died early Thursday morning
Big Ang prior to plastic surgery, pre-Mob Wives....

Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, star of the VH1 reality series "Mob Wives," died early Thursday morning as she was fighting lung and brain cancer. She was 55.

Widely known for her raspy voice, larger-than-life personality (plus humongous bustline), and of course her apparent propensity for plastic surgery, she was one of the very few Mob Wives stars to be universally loved by fans.

This blog often referred to her as the show's conscience, as well as its raspy voice of reason.

In January 2012, we first noted her presence on the VH1 reality show, calling her The Surprise Hit of the show:

In a way, we are -- and we are not -- surprised by all the attention flowing Big Ang's way since the Sunday night debut of the second season of "Mob Wives." It's sort of ironic that this woman, on the show for a mere seconds at the very end, should steal the limelight! If you enjoy 'Mob Wives,' you will most likely love 'Big Ang,' a new addition to the 'Mob Wives' Season mix. She has exactly the kind of personality you would expect from a 'mob moll,' she's warm and loving, has a great sense of humor and is a good cook.
"I like the wise guys," she'd rasp. "They know how to treat women. They bought me nice houses, gorgeous furs, diamonds, cars. They're very generous... and they're very good lookin..."
Angela Raiola aka "Big Ang" is the niece of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, a deceased captain of the Genovese crime family. Angela, a single mother of 2 was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY with her two sisters and four brothers.

"I am saddened to say that at 3:01 a.m., Ang lost her battle with cancer," said Jennifer Graziano, creator and executive producer of "Mob Wives." "She passed peacefully surrounded by friends and family."

Raiola's death was reported by various news outlets as well as via her confirmed Twitter account in a message posted "on behalf of the family" from Vinnie Medugno, who appeared on the show.

The VH1 series began in 2011, the same year Cosa Nostra News debuted. Some of my early Mob Wives stories remain among my all time top-read postings.

She was a mob moll who became a proprietor of several reputed mob hangouts.

VH1 even gave her her own spinoff show, "Big Ang," which focused on her life as the Drunken Monkey bartender and at her beauty salon, both of which were located on Staten Island, where Big Ang was filmed in one Mob Wives episode moving into a stately  Todt Hill estate.

In February, Raiola's sister, Janine Detore, appealed to fans to help raise funding for alternative treatment for the reality star.

Raiola also is survived by her son, Anthony Donofrio; her daughter, Raquel Donofrio; and two grandchildren.