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James Gandolfini, star of The Sopranos dies. Videos and Interviews. R.I.P.

James Gandolfini. photo: Barry Wetcher  James Gandolfini died earlier this week aged 51 in Italy, a wonderful character actor, who was excellent in True Romance, made his big breakthrough as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos.  He won an Emmy for best actor, three times for his portrayal of the gangster and starred in numerous films and several TV series, may he rest in peace.

James Gandolfini

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James Gandolfini
Gandolfini on February 19, 2007
Born James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr.
September 18, 1961
WestwoodNew JerseyU.S.
Died June 19, 2013 (aged 51)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1987–2013
Spouse(s) Marcy Wudarski
(m. 1999–2002)
Deborah Lin
(m. 2008–2013)
Children 2

James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr. (September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013) was an American actor, best known for his role as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, about a troubled crime boss struggling to balance his family life and career in the Mafia. Gandolfini garnered enormous praise for this role, winning both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series three times. Gandolfini’s other roles include the woman-beating mob henchman Virgil in True Romance, enforcer/stuntman Bear in Get Shorty, and the impulsive Wild Thing Carol inWhere the Wild Things Are.

Gandolfini produced the 2007 documentary Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, in which he interviewed 10 injured Iraq War veterans. His second documentary was released in 2010; Wartorn: 1861-2010 analyzes posttraumatic stress disorder and its impact on soldiers and families through several wars in American history, from 1861 to 2010. TV Guide ranked him 28 on its “50 Sexiest Stars of All Time” list in 2005.[1]



Early life

Gandolfini was born in WestwoodNew Jersey.[2] His mother, Santa, a high school lunch lady, was born in the USA of Italian ancestry and raised in NaplesItaly.[3] His father, James Joseph Gandolfini, Sr., a native of Borgotaro, Italy, was a bricklayer and cementmason, and later the head custodian at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.[3][4][5] James, Sr. also earned a Purple Heart inWorld War II.[6] Gandolfini’s parents were devout Roman Catholics and spoke Italian at home. Due to such influence, Gandolfini had a strong sense of being Italian, and regularly visited Italy.[4][7]

Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge and graduated from Park Ridge High School in 1979, where he played basketball and acted in school plays.[8] He was awarded the title “Class Flirt” in his senior yearbook. He held a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from Rutgers University, where he worked as a bouncer at an on-campus pub.[9] Gandolfini also worked as a bartender and club manager prior to pursuing an acting career.[9] Gandolfini was introduced to acting as a young man living in New York City, when he accompanied a friend, Roger Bart, to a Meisner technique acting class.[10]


The Sopranos

Gandolfini’s most acclaimed role was that of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey Mafia boss and family man who was the lead character in The Sopranos, which debuted in 1999. He won three Emmys for “Best Actor in a Drama” for his depiction of Soprano, who constantly questions his identity and purpose. Gandolfini eventually earned $1,000,000 per episode in the series,[citation needed] and Entertainment Weekly listed him as the 42nd Greatest TV Icon of All Time.[11]

Film and stage work

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Gandolfini performed in a 1992 Broadway production of On the Waterfront for six weeks. One of his best-known film roles was that of Virgil, a brutal woman-beating mob enforcer, in the 1993 romantic thriller True Romance.[3] Gandolfini said that one of his major inspirations for the role of Virgil, in True Romance, was an old friend of his, who was a hitman.[3] In the 1994 film Terminal Velocity, Gandolfini played Ben Pinkwater, a seemingly mild-mannered insurance man who turns out to be a violent Russian mobster. In Get Shorty (1995), he appeared as a bearded ex-stuntman with a Southern accent, and in The Juror (1996), he played a mob enforcer with a conscience.[3] He played the Mayor of New York in the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123.

Gandolfini returned to HBO in 2007 as the executive producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary special, Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq, his first project after The Sopranos and the first production for his company Attaboy Films, which was opened in 2006 with producing partner Alexandra Ryan. He returned to the stage in 2009, appearing inBroadway‘s God of Carnage with Marcia Gay HardenHope Davis and Jeff Daniels.[12]

In June 2010, it was announced that Gandolfini would be executive producing an HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn, titled Hemingway & Gellhorn and starring Clive Owen and Nicole KidmanPhilip Kaufman directed the film, which was written by Barbara Turner and Jerry Stahl, and began shooting in 2011.[13]Gandolfini reunited with Sopranos creator David Chase for Not Fade Away (2012), a music-driven production set in 1960s New Jersey, and the latter’s feature film debut.[14]

Alive Day: Home from Iraq

Gandolfini and Tony Sirico visit with a member of the U.S. Air Force during a USOvisit to Southwest Asia, March 31, 2010

In 2007, Gandolfini produced a documentary with HBO focused on injured Iraq War veterans and their devotion to America, while surveying the physical and emotional costs of war. Ten surviving soldiers were interviewed by Gandolfini, who revealed their thoughts on the challenges they face integrating back into society and family life. They also reflected on the memories of the day when they narrowly escaped death, and what life may have been like in other circumstances.

Wartorn: 1861–2010

In 2010, Gandolfini produced another documentary with HBO, which analyzed the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout American history, from 1861 to 2010. It featured interviews with American military officials on their views of PTSD and how they are trying to help soldiers affected by it. Letters from soldiers of the American Civil War and World War I who were affected by PTSD are examined, along with interviews with soldiers affected by PTSD and their families.

Personal life

Gandolfini with Rose McGowan in Kuwait, March 31, 2010

Gandolfini maintained ties with his Park Ridge hometown by supporting its The Octoberwoman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. He appeared at its annual October banquet and often brought other Sopranos cast members to help draw larger crowds. He resided inNew York City, and owned a lot on the Lake Manitoba Narrows.[15] In 2009, he purchased a home in the hills of Tewksbury Township, New Jersey.[16]

On August 30, 2008, after two years of dating, Gandolfini married former model Deborah Lin[17] in her hometown of HonoluluHawaii. Their daughter, Liliana Ruth Gandolfini, was born in Los AngelesCalifornia, on October 10, 2012.[18] Gandolfini also had a son, Michael, with his ex-wife Marcy Wudarski, from whom he was divorced in December 2002.

Gandolfini’s sister, Johanna Antonacci, is the manager of the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court in Hackensack, New Jersey. A fan of motorcycles, Gandolfini owned a Harley-Davidson and a Vespa scooter. On May 4, 2006, he was riding the Vespa in New York City traffic when it was hit by a taxi cab, resulting in knee surgery which postponed for three months the filming of the finalSopranos episodes.


On June 19, 2013, Gandolfini died suddenly while vacationing in Rome.[19] Early reports suggest the cause of death was either an acute myocardial infarction or a stroke.[20]Gandolfini was on his way toward Sicily, where he had been scheduled to participate in an onstage conversation with Italian director Gabriele Muccino at the Taormina Film Fest on June 22.[21] David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, called Gandolfini “a genius” and “his partner and brother”.[22] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called Gandolfini “a New Jersey treasure”.[22]



Year Film Role Notes
1987 Shock! Shock! Shock! Orderly
1992 A Stranger Among Us Tony Baldessari
1993 Italian Movie Angelo
1993 Money for Nothing Billy Coyle
1993 True Romance Virgil
1993 Mr. Wonderful Mike
1994 Angie Vinnie
1994 Terminal Velocity Ben Pinkwater
1995 Le Nouveau monde Will Caberra
1995 Crimson Tide Lt. Bobby Dougherty
1995 Get Shorty Bear
1996 The Juror Eddie
1997 Night Falls on Manhattan Joey Allegretto
1997 She’s So Lovely Kiefer
1997 Perdita Durango Willie “Woody” Dumas
1997 12 Angry Men Juror #6
1997 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Diner cook Uncredited
1998 Fallen Lou
1998 The Mighty Kenny Kane
1998 A Civil Action Al Love
1999 A Whole New Day Vincent Short film, included in Stories of Lost Souls
1999 8mm Eddie Poole
2001 The Mexican Winston Baldry L.A. Outfest Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
2001 The Man Who Wasn’t There Big Dave Brewster
2001 The Last Castle Colonel Winter
2004 Surviving Christmas Tom Valco
2006 Romance & Cigarettes Nick Murder
2006 Lonely Hearts Det. Charles Hilderbrandt
2006 All the King’s Men Tiny Duffy
2006 Club Soda The man Short film, included in Stories USA
2008 American Breakdown Himself Archive footage
2009 In the Loop Lt. Gen. George Miller Chlotrudis Award for Best Cast
2009 The Taking of Pelham 123 Mayor of New York
2009 Where the Wild Things Are Carol Voice
2010 Welcome to the Rileys Doug Riley
2010 Mint Julep Mr. G
2011 Down the Shore Bailey
2011 Violet & Daisy Michael
2011 Cinema Verite Craig Gilbert
2012 Killing Them Softly Mickey
2012 Zero Dark Thirty CIA Director Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2012 Not Fade Away Pat
2013 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Doug Munny
2013 Nicky Deuce Bobby Eggs
2014 Animal Rescue In post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Gun Walter Difideli Episode: “Columbus Day”
1999–2007 The Sopranos Tony Soprano 86 episodes
AFI Award for Actor of the Year – Male – TV Series (2001)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1999)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2000, 2001, 2003)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (1999, 2002, 2007)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1999, 2007)
TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama (1999, 2000, 2001)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (2000, 2001, 2002)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1999, 2004, 2007)
Nominated – Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actor – Drama Series (2008)
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1999, 2000, 2001)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006)
Nominated – TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama (2003, 2004, 2006)
Nominated – Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actor (2000)
2008 Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq Producer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special
2010 Wartorn: 1861–2010 Producer
PRISM Award for Best Documentary Program – Mental Health
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Producer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries

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