jessica tholmer
June 20, 2013 6:29 am

James Gandolfini.

It’s in the name. It just screams “boss”.

Born in New Jersey in the early 1960s, Gandolfini embodied what we think of when we think of the old school style of Italian man.

He acted in the New York theater and starred on Broadway in the ’90s, playing Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire, of course.

Gandolfini played in various bit roles that, unsurprisingly, remain memorable in our minds. Who could forget Virgil in True Romance, even if you tried? Really, really hard?

Or Nick Murder in Romance and Cigarettes?

Or even Tom Valco, the only redeeming part of the not-so-loved Christmas movie Surviving Christmas?

Of course, the pivotal role of his career and of his life was that of Tony Soprano, the protagonist on the insanely popular HBO hit The Sopranos.

The Sopranos focused on the Jersey based Italian mobster and his family–the ins and outs of focusing on raising children, attempting to be a husband, and balancing a “job” that demands a lot of time and attention.

Only a few actors have ever managed to portray a mob boss with quite as much force as Gandolfini, and if I am being quite honest, I think I mean Al Pacino and Marlon Brando are pretty much it.

Gandolfini was the Brando of the silver screen. Over the course of six seasons, The Sopranos was nominated every year, winning two Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series. The show also scored 21 nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, winning the award six times.

Gandolfini himself was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series every year The Sopranos was on, winning three of the six nominations.

Not simply because he portrayed one of the most memorable Italian characters in television history, but also because of his strong roots to Italy, Gandolfini often visited his parents’ country–both his mother and father were raised in Naples and Borgotaro, respectively.

Gandolfini passed away on June 19th at the far-too-young age of 51 in Italy. A bittersweet thought, but I am happy to know he was in a place he must have considered home.

Rest in peace, Mr. Gandolfini. Thank you for your wonderful contributions to our televisions, and our lives.

“I love hearing people laugh. Especially in New York, and especially now. To hear somebody out there just belly-laughing.” James Gandolfini, heartwarming.

Featured image via jamesgandolfini, Tony image via rapgenius, True Romance image via screened, Emmy image via positivelycelebrity,

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