Big Pussy Bonpensiero
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|Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero|
Vincent Pastore as Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero
|First appearance||"Pilot" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"Remember When" (episode 6.15)|
|Created by||David Chase|
|Portrayed by||Vincent Pastore|
|Full name||Salvatore Bonpensiero|
Big Pussy |
|Aliases||CW-16 (FBI informant number)|
Owner of Bonpensiero Bros. Body Shop |
|Title||Soldier in the Soprano Crew in the DiMeo crime family|
Lino Bonpensiero (father) |
Edward "Duke" Bonpensiero (brother)
Marianucci (sister, deceased)
Kevin Bonpensiero (son) |
Matt Bonpensiero (son)
Terri Bonpensiero (daughter)
Joey LaRocca (illegitimate son)
|Relatives||A.J. Soprano (godson)|
Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, played by Vincent Pastore, is a fictional character on the HBO TV series The Sopranos. Not to be confused with fellow fictional New Jersey mobster "Little Pussy" Malanga, Big Pussy was a close friend and mob enforcer for Tony Soprano.
The son of Lino Bonpensiero, Salvatore Bonpensiero started out as a cat burglar, and was affectionately known as Pussy, in reference to a pussycat. He was called "Big Pussy" to distinguish from Gennaro "Little Pussy" Malanga. Sal looked after his wife Angie and their three children, and was a long-time friend of Tony's. He operated an auto body shop with his brother Edward "Duke" Bonpensiero. He married Angela in 1976. He was an associate of Johnny Soprano until he supported Johnny during the unrest of 1983. Sal was a soldier in the Soprano crew, and he backed Johnny's wishes to have Tony Soprano become capo following Johnny's death in 1986. He also took on Johnny's tradition of dressing as Santa Claus and giving out presents to local children at Satriale's Pork Store at Christmas-time.
In order to put his children through college, he dealt heroin on the side, despite orders to stop. He was caught by the FBI and forced to inform against the Soprano crew, in order to avoid the possibility of 30 years to life in prison. Given Bonpensiero's middle adulthood, even the minimum sentence of 30 years meant he would have likely died of old age in prison. He was assigned FBI Agent Skip Lipari as a handler. He was revealed as an informant in the episode Do Not Resuscitate.
In flashbacks to 1995, it is shown that Sal was instrumental in organizing a sit-down between high ranking capo Junior Soprano and acting boss Jackie Aprile Sr. He traveled to Boca Raton to persuade Junior to return to New Jersey and settle a trucking dispute with Aprile. However, he was suspiciously late for the sit-down and blamed health problems of his comare's mother. Also, that year, he arrived to the Christmas celebrations already wearing his Santa suit, and apparently drunk and very touchy. Tony later recalled these events and decided Sal must have already turned informant at the time. This conflicts with the episode "Do Not Resuscitate", where Agent Lapari said to Pussy, "You been with (the FBI) since '98."
In 1999, Sal was an essential part of the Soprano crew and was involved in several events he could have reported. He intimidated a debtor into starting up Hesh Rabkin and Tony's HMO insurance scam. He helped Christopher Moltisanti dispose of Emil Kolar's body. He was assigned to retrieve a car stolen from Tony's son's teacher; he found the thieves but the car had already been chopped, so he came up with an ingenuous idea; ordering one of the thieves to steal a car of an identical model while the other broke into the chop shop to steal the original car's plates, to which Bonpensiero's body shop repainted the stolen car. He was present when the capos discussed their problems with acting boss, Junior. When indictments were threatened, he fled and burned papers in his back garden, perhaps a sign he was not co-operating fully.
Later that year, he was arrested at a card game run by Soprano family capo Jimmy Altieri. He tried to escape but threw his back out and was caught (he was later criticized for breaking the Mafia's policy against running from the authorities). He was quickly bailed out, but was confined to his house, as an invalid. Dirty cop Vin Makazian told Tony he had a rat in his organization and pointed the finger at Sal. Tony assigned Paulie Gualtieri to investigate, and to whack Sal, but only if he explicitly saw proof. At a bath house, Sal refused to undress, blaming high blood pressure, which raised the crew's suspicions further, especially after he then disappeared. Paulie took over his collections, and the crew killed Altieri, taking the heat off Sal, as the crew figured the rat was flushed.
Sal resurfaced at Tony's home in 2000, claiming to have been in Puerto Rico receiving treatment for his bad back from an acupuncturist. He started lying to Agent Lipari, showing reluctance to divulge details. He was spotted with Agent Lipari by an acquaintance Jimmy Bones, and later murdered Bones at his home, for fear of being revealed. Since his return, Sal and Angie had problems, and she discussed leaving him with Carmela Soprano, who dissuaded her, so Angie settled for sleeping in separate bedrooms.
When Tony became acting boss, he made Silvio his consigliere, and Paulie a capo, with new addition Furio Giunta on equal footing with Sal despite Sal's years of service. Sal was upset with the reorganization, openly hostile to Giunta, and his reservations about informing on the crew began to dissipate. Sal wore a wire to A.J.'s confirmation, but he spent most of the time privately counselling A.J., instead of talking business with the crew. Following Chris' shooting by associates Matthew Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte, Sal resumed his loyal soldier role; he tracked down the escaped Bevilaqua, whacked him with Tony. They had dinner after, and it seemed to be just like old times. Sal eventually gave Agent Lipari information on Soprano's stolen airline tickets scam, leading to Tony's brief arrest. He suggested he could work in law enforcement once he finished helping the FBI build their case, but Lipari replied he had a case of Stockholm syndrome and coldly stated that Sal's future involved testifying against the Soprano crew, doing a significantly reduced prison sentence for selling heroin, and then living in the Witness Protection Program.
Tony eventually accepted his suspicions about Sal after a portentous dream where Sal appeared to him as a talking fish. To be certain, he searched for evidence in Sal's home, and found a wire in a cigar box. He then organized a hit on Sal, with Silvio and Paulie, on a boat, with one last toast to the good times. All three were later haunted by the memory of their old friend's betrayal and murder.
Sal was survived by his wife, Angie, and children, Matt, Kevin, and Terri, and also his illegitimate son, Joseph "Joey" LaRocca, as revealed in the video-game The Sopranos: Road to Respect. Angie inherited the auto body shop, along with Sal's brother Duke.
- Jimmy Bones: beaten over the head several times with a hammer by Bonpensiero for seeing him with his FBI agent (2000).
- Matthew Bevilaqua: executed by Tony and Pussy for his attempt to murder Christopher (2000).
Appearances in the show after his death
- "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood": at the New Jersey FBI office where Skip Lipari is playing tapes of Bonpensiero attempting to elicit information from Tony about the murder of Matthew Bevilaqua, and the FBI has accepted that Bonpensiero is presumably dead, with Lipari saying "I think it's time to declare CW-16 (Pussy) compost" and his picture being removed from the Soprano family's organization chart and thrown in the garbage. Vincent Pastore is credited for this episode as the recording was not played on screen before this.
- "Proshai, Livushka": when Tony Soprano opens a closet at the gathering after his mother Livia's funeral, Big Pussy's reflection can be briefly seen in the mirror of the closet door.
- "Second Opinion": The singing fish brought into the Bing by bartender George Santorelli initially makes Tony smile, but reminds him of the dream in which Big Pussy confessed his betrayal. Tony proceeds to violently reprimand Santorelli for bringing it into the bar, beating him over the head with the singing fish.
- "...To Save Us All From Satan's Power": seen in flashback sequences to 1995 and in Silvio's dream.
- "The Test Dream": appears in Tony's dream.
- "Remember When": Pussy's death is replayed in Paulie's head and later Pussy appears in his kitchen in one of his dreams shortly after Tony contemplates whacking Paulie.
- Rucker, Allen & David Chase. The Sopranos, A Family History. New York, American Library, 2003
- "The Sopranos - Sal "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero". HBO.