I would be very remiss in not writing a blog dedicated to the beloved actor James Gandolfini, who played fictional mob boss, Tony Soprano, in the HBO hit series, The Sopranos. I am still in shock over his untimely passing. He was so young, so talented, so respected and touched so many lives. He was very much loved and will greatly be missed.
I first became aware of James Gandolfini when I decided to rent season one of The Sopranos. I don’t have HBO, but heard so many good things about the series that I wanted to try it out and see if I liked it. I didn’t like it… I loved it. I decided to return my rented DVD’s and buy season one. I had to own it. Every year thereafter, when a season ended, I patiently waited for it to come out on DVD, usually at Christmas, and would buy it. Then I would watch two or three episodes every night until I had seen it all. I don’t know how many times I have watched the entire series. I never tired of it. It had some of the best writing and acting I have ever seen. The show’s success was in large part due to James Gandolfini, who played his role as Tony Soprano so realistically and flawlessly.
From the first scene in season one, where Tony is out by the pool with his ducks and has a panic attack, you cannot help but be drawn to his character. He was a ruthless mob boss, but he also had his strengths and weaknesses as a human being. The character had so many dimensions that you couldn’t help but love him and root for him. It takes some special kind of acting to make you feel compassion for a mob boss who not only orders the deaths of his enemies, but those who are closest to him, if necessary. Tony carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. The show never glorified the mob lifestyle. The mobsters had plenty of money and lived a lavish life, with big homes and material possessions, but at what price? They had to live in fear of their enemies, the other mob families, who would try to cut on in their money making operations or put contracts out on their lives. They had to worry about the Feds closing in on them, as they were always the target of law enforcement. They had to worry about snitches, especially those closest to them who would wear a wire and supply the incriminating information that could send them to prison. The wives had to accept the fact that their husbands had mistresses, it went hand in hand with the lifestyle. When Carmela often complained to Tony about his mistress, he would tell her, “You knew who I was when you married me.” The mistresses often were given expensive gifts and money, kept in luxury apartments and taken out to social events. The wives were relegated to taking care of the children and house. The mobsters had two separate lives. Every detail of the lifestyle was portrayed on the show. Somehow, instead of judging and criticizing, we get drawn into the human side of all the characters, especially that of Tony Soprano.
I can’t tell you how upset I was when the series came to an end. It’s silly, I know. All shows eventually run their course, and The Sopranos had a very good run. But, I almost felt like I was saying goodbye to “family.” Family that I would no longer be able to see. And now, it’s time to say good bye again. This time it’s for real. Tony Soprano had many near death experiences on the show, but we knew he would survive. He was the star and could not be replaced. James Gandolfini was not as fortunate as his character. Life dealt him a fatal blow from which he could not recover. It’s so sad, no words can describe such a loss. James Gandolfini is still a star that cannot be replaced. He is a star that has taken on a different form and shines even more brightly than before. He is being remembered as a generous, compassionate, loving human being by all those who knew him personally. And I think that is what made his character, Tony Soprano so endearing. That even with his remarkable portrayal of ruthless mob boss, his true inner qualities still managed to shine through on the screen, and make him lovable and unforgettable.
We have never forgotten Tony Soprano, and now we will always remember James Gandolfini. May God watch over his wife and children, as I am sure he is now doing. May you rest in peace, James Gandolfini.
P.S. It’s no coincidence that I chose the pseudonym “Soprano” to write this blog. I thoroughly loved the show and I suppose I wanted to keep a piece of it alive in a way. It’s the reason I was drawn to Mob Wives in the first place. The Sopranos gave me an more in depth understanding of the lifestyle. It’s not all glamour and glitz, there is a lot of worrying and heartache. So when I watch Mob Wives, I do think of Carmela Soprano, and what she had to endure as a wife and mother. And even now, as I reminisce about the show, I wonder how much more there is to each of the Mob Wives’ history, especially Karen, Renee, Ramona and Big Ang. There must be so much that we can’t see and they can’t tell us. Yes, we see what their lives are today, but I am sure there was so much more that happened that must go unsaid.