Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante
|First appearance||"Pilot" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"Made in America" (episode 6.21)|
|Created by||David Chase|
|Portrayed by||Steven Van Zandt|
|Occupation||Part Owner and Manager of Bada Bing Strip Club|
Soldato (1980s - Season 1)
Consigliere (Seasons 2 - 6)
Acting Boss (Part of Season 6)
|Family||Beppo Dante (father)|
|Spouse(s)||Gabriella Dante (wife)|
|Children||Heather Dante (daughter)|
|Founder||Domenico Ercole DiMeo|
|Founding location||New Jersey, United States|
|Territory||Northern New Jersey|
|Ethnicity||Italian, Italian-American, made men with other ethnicities as "associates"|
|Membership||50-60 made men (based on 5-6 crews consisting of approx 10 men each), 200+ associates|
|Criminal activities||auto theft, bank fraud, bid rigging, bookmaking, building violations, calling card fraud, cement violations, cigarette smuggling, construction violations, contract killing, credit card fraud, drug trafficking, extortion, HUD fraud, identity theft, illegal gambling, insurance fraud, labor racketeering, loan sharking, mail fraud, money laundering, mortgage fraud, Murder, pornography, pier and port theft, racketeering, securities fraud, truck hijacking, waste management, wire fraud, witness tampering|
|Allies||Lupertazzi crime family, Vittorio/Zucca Camorra family, Russian mafia, Jewish mob and Middle-Eastern crime syndicate|
|Rivals||Philadelphia crime family, Vipers motorcycle gang, African-American drug crews, Colombian drug crews and other New Jersey gangs, including some of their allies at various times|
Silvio Manford Dante, often referred to as "Sil", played by Steven Van Zandt, is a fictional character on the HBO TV series The Sopranos. He is the consigliere to Tony Soprano in the Soprano crime family. Silvio has one of the lowest profiles on the show. He is usually a behind the scenes figure and tries not to draw much attention to himself. He does very well at maintaining a legitimate business image as the manager and owner of the Bada Bing strip club. Silvio usually keeps his cool in even the worst situations but has been known to unleash his terrible fury and excessive anger when necessary (or when playing poker), revealing a temper comparable to his peers'. Silvio is a movie and film connoisseur and has an encyclopedic mind for movie lines. Throughout the series, he entertains the other members of the crew by getting into character and mimicking Michael Corleone's remark in the The Godfather Part III: "Just when I thought I was out...they pulled me back in." Silvio is one of the most loyal mobsters in the Soprano crime family. He is notorious on the show for executing FBI informants and traitors.
According to The Sopranos, A Family History, Silvio was born in June 1957; his father was Joseph "Beppo" Dante (Calabrian origin), a soldier who was "gunned down" in 1959. Silvio was a childhood friend of Tony and his early criminal activity often involved Tony, Ralph Cifaretto and Jackie Aprile, Sr. His original career plan was to be a professional singer, but this dream never materialized. Despite this, Silvio has maintained a connection to show business through ownership of numerous clubs in North Jersey over the years, and in backing aspiring young starlets who come up through his clubs. Silvio's support was instrumental in ensuring Tony took over as capo following the death of his father. Throughout his association with the Soprano crew, Silvio formed friendships with Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero and Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri.
It was Silvio who reported to Tony that his Uncle Junior planned to murder Pussy Malanga in Artie Bucco's restaurant and who was later entrusted with starting the fire which would ensure the original Vesuvio's burnt down, therefore not ruining its reputation. In the short and bloody war of 1999 with the Junior Soprano crew, Silvio helped Tony to plan hits on Chucky Signore and Mikey Palmice and remained supportive when his friend revealed that he had been seeing a therapist. Silvio is one of the more level-headed associates of Tony Soprano. Where many of Tony's men immediately become hot-headed and resort to violence, Silvio generally helps to mediate many situations and gets along with everyone. He accompanies Tony to most of his "sit-downs" - a formal venue in the organization to resolve disputes. Because of this, Tony relies on Silvio to be a clear-headed thinker and someone he can trust. Silvio is most often the one to quote mafia rules and norms when a tough decision is to be made, even if he ends up disagreeing with Tony. Silvio's move to consigliere, once Tony becomes acting boss, seems completely natural. Indeed, Silvio remains Tony's most reliable adviser and enforcer, with only several incidents that show his aggression, such as when Fat Dom Gamiello makes a remark about the late Vito Spatafore (and implicating that Carlo Gervasi was gay), an enraged Silvio attacked Fat Dom by hitting him in the back of the head with a handheld vacuum, and then holding his arms behind his back, which leads Carlo to stab Dom repeatedly in the abdomen with a large kitchen knife, and during poker, when he often becomes foul-mouthed and paranoid.
Silvio's criminal interests include loan sharking and bookmaking but his day-to-day role is that of managing the Bada Bing, the most recent in a string of strip clubs that he has operated. "The Bing", as it is often referred to, is not only one of the crime family's major meeting spots, but also doubles as a brothel. The most notable instance of Silvio's club's doubling as a house of prostitution is perhaps episode "University", wherein Silvio's role in this arrangement is especially poignant. In spite of his misogyny, Silvio loves and cares about, and is a strong father for his teenage daughter Heather, whom he calls The Principessa. Silvio says that Heather disapproves of his profession calling it "degrading to women". Tony has said to him, "You're a good father." When his daughter's soccer coach was found to be involved with one of his young players, Silvio looked for vengeance but followed Tony's decision to let the authorities deal with him. Apart from periodic instances of adultery, Christopher says during his intervention that Silvio was "fucking every slut you got working in the place", it can be said that he also loves his wife, Gabriella Dante (played by Steven Van Zandt's real life wife Maureen Van Zandt), very much.
Silvio has a long record of executing traitors throughout the show. He killed Jimmy Altieri at the end of season one. Later, along with Tony and Paulie Gualtieri, he executes Pussy Bonpensiero in season two. In season five, he executes Adriana La Cerva. All were killed when they were discovered to have been cooperating -- or, in the case of Altieri, thought to have been cooperating -- with the FBI in their ongoing investigation of the Soprano crime family. Like Tony and Paulie, Bonpensiero's killing haunted Silvio. In Season 6, Silvio also executed Burt Gervasi, garroting him after he discovered that he had been working with the Lupertazzi crime family.
Silvio's judgment wavered a little when he realized Tony was positioning Christopher Moltisanti as an intermediary between him and the rest of the organization because of Chris and Tony's blood ties. This was made most apparent when Paulie was arrested on a gun charge and Tony made Christopher acting capo of his crew in Paulie's absence. Sil responded by encouraging Gualtieri crew soldier Patsy Parisi to steal from the Esplanade construction site against Tony's and Chris' orders - creating problems for Chris. Silvio also became embroiled in a conflict over a Columbus Day celebration with Native American protesters - something Tony saw as a distraction - going so far as to get many of the family's associates involved in a violent altercation with the protesters. Silvio found it hard to let the conflict die even once Tony had exhausted all avenues of winning the dispute. Silvio did not take this uncharacteristic behavior any further and, although Tony had noticed it, nothing came of it. Silvio got a chance to vent his frustration with Christopher at an intervention for Chris' drug problem that ended with Chris' being violently put in his place by Paulie and Silvio. Since Chris returned from rehab, his relationship with Silvio seems to have returned to their previous friendly association.
Silvio maintains a realistic relationship with Paulie Gualtieri, well aware of Paulie's tight-fisted attitude towards money and dangerous tendencies. Silvio has remarked to Tony that they know that Paulie does not kick up his full tribute. Silvio also tried to warn Paulie that his distractedness had been noticed at the time when Paulie let his loyalties waver towards the Lupertazzi crime family, not long after Silvio's own crisis of faith in Tony. Paulie and Silvio argued about this - Paulie had been harboring resentment toward Silvio since an illness got Paulie into the Pine Barrens fiasco, while making Silvio's rounds. However, it was not long before Paulie returned his attention to staying in Tony's good graces.
Silvio counseled Tony through difficult decisions about Richie Aprile, and his disputes with Ralph Cifaretto, Feech La Manna and Tony Blundetto. He is often forced to convince Tony to go against his impulses - something that he usually manages without setting off Tony's hair-trigger temper. More often than not, when Silvio has something on his mind but won't speak it, Tony often senses this and gets him to speak up.
When Tony ends up in a coma after being shot by his uncle in a fit of dementia, it falls upon Silvio to take the reins as acting boss of the Soprano family. At first, Silvio seemingly enjoys the job, and even feels a slight bit of regret that he did not accept an offer from the late Jackie Aprile, Sr. to become the boss back in the late 1990s. His wife Gabriella prompts him to consider the possibilities of a permanent change. His ambitions quickly subside when he feels the immense pressure of being boss and begins to have asthma attacks brought on by anxiety. As boss, Silvio dealt effectively with Paulie in a dispute over the split of profits from a heist Paulie had undertaken following a tip from Vito Spatafore. However, Silvio was indecisive in his handling of a dispute between Vito and Bobby Bacala over a collection route.
Since his return to the more comfortable role of consigliere, Silvio has again counseled Tony about contentious issues. When Vito was outed to the organization, Silvio convinced Tony of the need to restrain his desire to "give him a pass" because of the effect it would have on the other captains' view of his leadership. When Tony responded with distasteful jokes to Bobby's serious injury, a look from Silvio was enough to tell him he was being unfair.
When Vito Spatafore came back from New Hampshire, Silvio said that there would be popular sentiment to get rid of him, but Tony had initially decided to let Vito run a prostitution ring in Atlantic City. However, when Phil Leotardo confronted Tony about Vito being in New Jersey, Silvio and Tony both knew that they couldn't keep fighting with Phil over the issue and that if they wanted to keep the "no show" jobs, Vito would have to go. Silvio had always pushed for Spatafore to be taken care of and told Tony that it was the right move and not to beat himself up over the issue.
When Phil Leotardo and his men killed Vito (without permission from Tony), Tony told Silvio that it wasn't about Vito, it was about him. Silvio initially told Tony that they should go after one of Phil's men but Tony was trying to avoid a war and instead decided to blow up Phil's wire room in Sheepshead Bay.
Silvio and Carlo were at Satriale's Pork Store later that day when "Fat Dom" Gamiello came by. Dom started making jokes about Vito's homosexuality and implied that Carlo was homosexual. Silvio told Dom to leave, but when Dom continued his ridicule, anger got the best of the usually calm consigliere as he smashed his hand-held vacuum over Dom's head and held him while Carlo stabbed him to death. A short time afterwards, Tony came by the shop to see them. Silvio advised Tony not to enter, but he couldn't stop Tony from finding Dom. Tony stormed out of the shop with Silvio right behind him telling Tony that "When you kill a made guy this is what happens."
In the episode "Stage 5" Silvio was out at lunch with Gerry Torciano, the man Phil Leotardo wanted to take over as boss of the Lupertazzi family, when one of Doc Santoro's assassins killed Torciano. This outraged Tony, as Silvio could have been hurt during that altercation.
In the episode "The Blue Comet", it is revealed that the Lupertazzi family has recruited Burt Gervasi to begin a rebellion against Tony. Burt goes to Silvio to join in a coup d'état against the boss, but Silvio responds by strangling him to death at his home a short time later. Eventually assassination plots are put on Silvio, Bobby Bacala, and Tony Soprano in order to decapitate the leadership of the family. Shortly after Bobby is killed, while Patsy Parisi drives Silvio outside of the Bada Bing club, a car moves in front of them, with two men coming out shooting multiple times. Silvio tries taking a pistol off of the back seat, only to be shot in the back. Silvio manages to grab his pistol in time while Parisi holds them off. Parisi manages to defend them, but soon the two men begin to target Silvio more. He is shot once more in the chest, while Patsy runs into the woods, fleeing for his life. Afterwards, Silvio is rushed to the hospital and placed in an intensive care unit.
Paulie later tells Tony that Silvio survived the assassination attempt but is in a coma; the doctors say that he is unlikely to regain consciousness. In the final episode, an emotional Tony visits the still comatose Silvio, whose fate is not mentioned further.
Murders committed by Silvio
- James "Little Jimmy" Altieri: Shot for being a suspected informant. (1999)
- Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero: Shot by him, Paulie and Tony for cooperating with the FBI. (2000)
- Adriana La Cerva: Shot in the woods for being an informant. (2004)
- Dominic "Fat Dom" Gamiello: Stabbed by Carlo Gervasi while Silvio held him down in retaliation for Vito Spatafore's murder. (2006)
- Burt Gervasi: Garroted for switching alliances to the Lupertazzi family during the war between the families. (2007)