James Gandolfini

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James Gandolfini
JamesGandolfiniSept11TIFF.jpg
Gandolfini in 2011
Born James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr.
(1961-09-18)September 18, 1961
Westwood, New Jersey, U.S.
Died June 19, 2013(2013-06-19) (aged 51)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Actor
Years active 1987–2013
Spouse(s) Marcy Wudarski (1999–2002)
Deborah Lin (2008–2013)
Children 2

James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr.[1] (September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013) was an American actor. He was best known for his role as Tony Soprano, an American Mafia crime boss in the award-winning HBO series The Sopranos. He garnered praise for his portrayal of Soprano, winning three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and one Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. His other notable roles include woman-beating mob henchman Virgil in True Romance (1993), enforcer and stuntman Bear in Get Shorty (1995), and impulsive Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are (2009).

After wrapping The Sopranos, Gandolfini produced the documentary Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq (2007), in which he interviewed ten injured Iraq War veterans. His second documentary, Wartorn: 1861–2010 (2010), analyzes the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder on soldiers and families through several wars in American history from 1861 to 2010.

Early life[edit]

Gandolfini was born in Westwood, New Jersey.[2] His mother, Santa (née Penna), a high school lunch lady of Italian and German ancestry, was born in the United States and raised in Naples, Italy.[3][4] His father, James Joseph Gandolfini, Sr., a native of Borgo Val di Taro, Italy, was a bricklayer and cement mason and later the head janitor at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.[3][5][6] James Sr. earned a Purple Heart in World War II.[7] Gandolfini's parents were devout Roman Catholics and spoke Italian at home. Due to the influence of his parents, he developed a strong sense of Italian American identity and visited Italy regularly.[5][8]

Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey and graduated from Park Ridge High School in 1979, where he played basketball, acted in school plays,[9] and was awarded the title "Class Flirt" in his senior yearbook. He attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from Rutgers University in 1982, where he worked as a bouncer at an on-campus pub.[10] He also worked as a bartender and club manager in Manhattan prior to his acting career.[10] He was introduced to acting as a young man living in New York City, when he accompanied his friend Roger Bart to a Meisner technique acting class,[11] where he studied for two years under Kathryn Gately at The Gately Poole Conservatory.[12]

Career[edit]

Gandolfini performed in a 1992 Broadway production of On the Waterfront for six weeks. One of his earlier film roles was that of Virgil, a brutal woman-beating mob enforcer, in the romantic thriller True Romance (1993), for which he said one of his major inspirations was an old friend of his, who was a hitman.[citation needed] In the film Terminal Velocity (1994), 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]

Gandolfini's most acclaimed role was Tony Soprano, the lead character in the HBO drama The Sopranos, a New Jersey mob boss and family man whose constant existential questioning includes regular psychiatric appointments. The show debuted in 1999 and was broadcast until 2007. For his depiction of Soprano, Gandolfini won three Emmys for "Best Actor in a Drama" and Entertainment Weekly listed him as the 42nd Greatest TV Icon of All Time.[13] In addition to the awards that he won, Gandolfini received numerous nominations and two SAG Awards for being a member of the series' ensemble.[14]

Gandolfini and Tony Sirico visit with a member of the U.S. Air Force during a USO visit 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. Gandolfini interviewed ten surviving soldiers, who revealed their thoughts about the challenges they face reintegrating into society and family life. They also reflected on their memories of the day when they narrowly escaped death and what life may have been like in other circumstances.[citation needed]

That same year, Gandolfini returned to HBO 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 in Broadway's God of Carnage with Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, and Jeff Daniels. He received a Tony Award nomination in the category of Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his role in the play but lost to Geoffrey Rush from the play, Exit the King. He played the Mayor of New York in the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123.

In 2010, Gandolfini produced another documentary with HBO, which analyzed the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder 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.[citation needed]

Gandolfini was executive producer of the HBO film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn, titled Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012).[15] Gandolfini reunited with The 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.[16][17]

Personal life[edit]

Gandolfini with Rose McGowan in Kuwait, March 31, 2010.

Gandolfini maintained ties with his Park Ridge, New Jersey hometown by supporting its Octoberwoman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. He appeared at its annual October banquet and often brought other cast members of The Sopranos to help draw larger crowds. He lived in New York City and owned a lot on the Lake Manitoba Narrows.[18] In 2009, he purchased a home in the hills of Tewksbury Township, New Jersey[19] GQ's Brett Martin said about Gandolfini: "In interviews, which the actor did his very best to avoid, the actor would often fall back on some version of 'I'm just a dumb, fat guy from Jersey.'"[20]

Gandolfini and his first wife, Marcy Wudarski, divorced in December 2002. They have a son named Michael (born 2000).[21] On August 30, 2008, after two years of dating, Gandolfini married former model Deborah Lin in her hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii.[22] Their daughter, Liliana Ruth Gandolfini, was born in Los Angeles, California on October 10, 2012.[23]

Death[edit]

Gandolfini died on June 19, 2013, aged 51, during a vacation in Rome, Italy. He was expected to travel to Sicily a few days later to receive an award at the Taormina Film Fest. After a day of sightseeing in sweltering heat, Gandolfini's 13-year-old son Michael discovered him unconscious at around 10 pm local time on the bathroom floor at the Boscolo Exedra Hotel in the Piazza della Repubblica. Michael called hotel reception, who called emergency paramedics.[21] Gandolfini reportedly arrived at the hospital at 10:40 pm and was pronounced dead at 11 pm.[24] An autopsy confirmed that he had died of a heart attack.[25]

While word of his death spread, politicians such as John McCain and Chris Christie took to the Internet to respond.[26][27][28] Christie ordered all New Jersey State buildings to fly flags at half staff on June 24 to honor Gandolfini when his remains were returned to the United States.[29] The people of Gandolfini's hometown started a Facebook page to discuss plans to honor him,[30] including naming a street after him and renaming the Little Theater at Park Ridge High School, where he did his first performances, after him.[31]

The day after Gandolfini's death, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, which has long featured Sopranos co-star Steven Van Zandt on guitar, gave a performance of their 1975 classic "Born to Run" and dedicated it to Gandolfini.[32] Gandolfini's body was returned to the U.S. on June 23, 2013. Family spokesman Michael Kobold thanked both Italian and American authorities for expediting the repatriation process, which normally takes seven days.[33] Broadway dimmed theater marquee lights on the night of Wednesday, June 26 in Gandolfini's honor.[34] His funeral service was held on June 27, 2013 at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Morningside Heights, New York.[35][36]

TV Guide published a special tribute to Gandolfini in their July 1, 2013 issue, devoting the entire back cover of that issue to his image. Columnist Matt Roush cited Gandolfini's work as Tony Soprano as an influence on subsequent cable TV protagonists, saying: "Without Tony, there's no Vic Mackey of The Shield, no Al Swearengen of Deadwood, no Don Draper of Mad Men (whose creator, Matthew Weiner, honed his craft as a writer on The Sopranos)." Similar testimonials were included by his costars and colleagues, including Edie Falco, who expressed shock and devastation at his death, Sopranos creator David Chase, who praised him as a "genius", Bryan Cranston, who stated that his Breaking Bad character Walter White would not have existed without Tony Soprano, and Gandolfini's Killing Them Softly co-star Brad Pitt, who expressed admiration for Gandolfini as a "ferocious actor, a gentle soul and a genuinely funny man".[37]

Three months after his death, it was reported that in Gandolfini's last will and testament, dated December 19, 2012 and filed July 2, 2013 in Manhattan Surrogate's Court, he left a substantial portion of his estimated $70 million estate to his two sisters, widow, and daughter. The will did not state any inheritance for his only son, Michael, because Gandolfini provided for him a separate trust that is funded by a life insurance policy.[38] In December 2013, following an online petition campaign started by Gandolfini's high school classmate, Lori Fredrics, his hometown renamed its Park Avenue to James Gandolfini Way at a public ceremony attended by several of his former Sopranos co-stars.[39]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1987 Shock! Shock! Shock! Orderly
1991 The Last Boy Scout Marcone's Henchman Uncredited
1992 Stranger Among Us, AA 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 Nouveau monde, LeLe Nouveau monde Will Caberra
1995 Crimson Tide Lt. Bobby Dougherty
1995 Get Shorty Bear
1996 Juror, TheThe 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 Mighty, TheThe Mighty Kenny Kane
1998 Civil Action, AA Civil Action Al Love
1999 Whole New Day, AA Whole New Day Vincent Short film, included in Stories of Lost Souls
1999 8mm Eddie Poole
2001 Mexican, TheThe 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 Last Castle, TheThe 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
2008 Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq Producer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special
2009 In the Loop Lt. Gen. George Miller
2009 Taking of Pelham 123, TheThe 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
2010 Wartorn: 1861–2010 Producer
PRISM Award for Best Documentary Program – Mental Health
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
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Producer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries
2013 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Doug Munny
2013 Nicky Deuce Bobby Eggs
2013 Enough Said Albert Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor in a Comedy
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Nominated – London Film Critics Circle Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor[40]
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
2014 The Drop Marv

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Gun Walter Difideli Episode: "Columbus Day"
1999–2007 Sopranos, TheThe Sopranos Tony Soprano 86 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2000, 2001, 2003)
AFI Award for Actor of the Year - Male - TV Series (2001)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1999)
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)
2002 Sesame Street Himself 1 episode

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2006 The Sopranos: Road to Respect Tony Soprano

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New York Times". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  2. ^ James Gandolfini, hbo.com. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c "Youtube interview of James Gandolfini – Inside the Actors Studio, 2004". YouTube. May 15, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b "This Is James Gandolfini, He's Not Tony, The Actor Behind The Sopranos Mob Boss Is More Like "A 260-Pound Woody Allen"". CBS News. April 8, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  6. ^ James Gandolfini profile, E!. Retrieved May 27, 2007[dead link]
  7. ^ Heilpern, John (April 2009). "Out to Lunch: Curtains for Gandolfini". Vanity Fair. 
  8. ^ "James Gandolfini – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ Goldman, Jeff (June 20, 2013). "Yearbook photos of James Gandolfini acting, playing basketball at Park Ridge High School". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "James Gandolfini". AskMen.com. June 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ "25 (Not Quite) Random Facts About James Gandolfini". Broadway.com: Broadway Buzz. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ "R.I.P. James Gandolfini - June 19th 2013". Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The 50 Greatest TV Icons - JAMES GANDOLFINI". Entertainment Weekly. December 27, 2007. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Clive James on The Sopranos". Daily Telegraph. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "HBO Orders Hemingway Film With Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen". TV Guide. 
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (January 24, 2011). "Gandolfini, Chase reconnect at 'Twylight' ". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 24, 2011). " 'Sopranos' Big-Screen Reunion: James Gandolfini Joins David Chase's New Movie". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Everybody's scared to upset Mr. Soprano". Winnipeg Free Press. October 17, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  19. ^ Slaght, Veronica (September 24, 2009). "'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini buys home in Tewksbury". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  20. ^ Martin, Brett (July 2013). "The Night Tony Soprano Disappeared". GQ Magazine. 
  21. ^ a b "James Gandolfini discovered by 13-year-old son". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  22. ^ Smith, Graham (September 1, 2008). "Sopranos 'Godfather' James Gandolfini marries his former model fiancée in Hawaii". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  23. ^ "James Gandolfini Welcomes Daughter". USA Today. October 12, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  24. ^ "James Gandolfini died of cardiac arrest". News24. Associated Press. June 20, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Gandolfini autopsy confirms heart attack as cause of death: source". Yahoo News. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Reactions to the Death of James Gandolfini". The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Stars share reaction to James Gandolfini's death". Yahoo!. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  28. ^ "James Gandolfini's death stirs reactions from stars". RGJ. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Governor Christie orders flags at half-staff on Mon., June 24 to recognize James Gandolfini". northjersey.com. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Let's Name a Street in Park Ridge James Gandolfini Way". Facebook. 
  31. ^ "Ex-classmates want street named after Gandolfini". FIOS News 1. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Dedicates 'Born to Run' to James Gandolfini Onstage". Rolling Stone. June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  33. ^ "James Gandolfini's body arrives in New Jersey as plans for funeral at Manhattan cathedral are announced". Daily Mail (UK). June 24, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Broadway to dim marquee lights for Gandolfini". United Press International. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Funeral for James Gandolfini scheduled for Thursday". Fox5 New York. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  36. ^ Levin, Gary (June 27, 2013). "'Sopranos' cast turns out for James Gandolfini's funeral". USA Today. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  37. ^ Roush, Matt (July 1, 2013). "A Soprano's Swan Song". TV Guide. pp. 18–21. 
  38. ^ Ross, Barbara. "James Gandolfini ‘displayed his usual sense of humor’ when he signed will prior to his death". The Daily News. 
  39. ^ Alexander, Dan (December 2, 2013). "Park Ridge Pays Tribute to James Gandolfini". New Jersey 101.5. 
  40. ^ http://www.awardscircuit.com/2013/12/10/phoenix-film-critic-nominations-are-led-by-12-years-a-slave/

External links[edit]