• Anthony Martignetti died in his sleep
  • The cause of death is unknown
  • He became a Boston icon at the age of 12

Anthony Martignetti, also known as the "Prince Spaghetti Boy," died at 63.

Anthony was most popular as the 12-year-old boy running through the streets of Boston's Italian North End in the 1969 commercial for Prince Spaghetti.

On Monday, Anthony’s brother Andy Martignetti announced the death through a Facebook post. The cause of death is unknown at the moment.

"It is with a heavy and hurting heart that we announce to our family and friends that our brother Anthony J. Martignetti passed away suddenly in his sleep last night," Andy wrote. "None of us have accepted this yet and I don't know when we will. RIP little brother, till we meet again, I love you."

See posts, photos and more on Facebook.

Anthony, a resident of West Roxbury, formerly of Boston’s North End, had no experience as an actor and received zero training for his role in the iconic commercial.

He was walking with some friends through the North End when three men approached the group asking for directions to Commercial Street.

Although his friends weren’t "exactly nice" to the strangers, Anthony stayed back to help them, the Boston Globe reported.

Little did he know the men were scouting the neighborhood for a commercial for the Prince Spaghetti Company. They found the star for their television commercial in the young helper, who had migrated from Italy three years before.

Anthony played himself in the commercial. The woman who played the role of his mother and called out "Anthony! Anthony!" in the commercial was actually a neighbor.

The pay wasn’t great, but he bought a new set of hockey goalie pads from what he earned from starring in the commercial.

Through the role, Anthony’s name was inscribed in the heart of every American. The commercial became a phenomenon, and Anthony a Boston icon. The commercial ran on national television screens for nearly 14 years. It also won a Clio Award, a prestigious honor in the advertising field.

"I always understood that it was larger than me, that I had a responsibility to preserve what that commercial meant to people," Anthony told Boston Globe last year on the 50th anniversary of the commercial’s airing. "I knew that if I got into trouble, little Anthony from the spaghetti commercial would be all over the paper."

Anthony lived in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood and worked as a court officer in Dedham.

He is survived by his parents, wife, son, two brothers and a sister.

Death Coffin Casket
Representational image. Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images