Written by Stanley Greenberg Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
I first saw James Gandolfini playing a mafia enforcer many years before watching him play Tony Soprano on Sunday nights. He was so believable in his roles that he eased into his Soprano acting role as mob-boss flawlessly. The show won 21 Emmy awards.
Gandolfini had a little crooked smile that endeared him to the viewer. He made you realize there was a bit of humanity and emotional frailty in the crime figure. He portrayed a caring father to Meadow his daughter (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and his wayward son A.J. Soprano (Robert Iler). Tony also had mother problems with his overbearing and pushy parent. On the show, to deal with his childhood problems, he saw a professional Psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Incidentally, Lorraine Bracco was a Hicksville High School graduate. The good doctor would not relate to Tony on a romantic level. She also turned down the role of Carmella because she felt it was too similar to her character in “Goodfellows”.
Other unforgettable characters on “The Sopranos” was Carmella (Edie Falco) played the perfect mobsters’ wife, taking care of the family responsibilities and home. Christopher Moltisanti, (Michael Imperioli) a rambunctious underling who caused Tony many problems. Adriana (Drea de Matteo), the sexy foul mouthed girlfriend of Christopher, who squeals to the F.B.I. Also, Pauly “Walnuts” (Tony Sirico) the slick, gray haired mob-guy who captured our imagination as a real mafioso. Who could forget “Junior” ( Dominic Chiesa) the old time gangster who was slowly “losing his marbles” on the show. Also, Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) was Tony’s right hand man wearing a black headband. He is also known as a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s band. Bobby Baccala (Steve Schirripa) was Tony’s brother-in-law. Bobby had a rough fight with Tony on the show.
These unforgettable characters dominated my Sunday nights for six years. I remember I left a wedding early just to get home to watch “the Sopranos”. We spent a fun day with our dear friends the Greenes. We took a planned “Sopranos Bus Trip” to New Jersey to see all the Soprano “hot spots”. We even saw The Bada-Bing Strip Club which was actually a strip bar in Lodi New Jersey called Satin Dolls.” During the bus trip, we stopped for cannolis. It was a trip never to be forgotten by Soprano fans.
James Gandolfini was the glue that kept the show together with his personality and his quick, short smile. During those years, we never stopped talking about him. He was part of our family and friends, we loved him. Goodbye James, the Greenbergs will miss you.