Rest in Peace, Paesano


He was a countryman from Jersey.  Born in Westwood, James Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge, attending Park Ridge High and then on to Rutgers to major in Communications.  But it wasn’t until he was 25 years old that Gandolfini took an interest in acting.  And boy, could he act the part of the mobster, an unlikely choice by David Chase for the incomparable family head of the Sopranos.  He would be forever typecast as that fictional character, still standing when the 9th and final season ended, making him seem immortal.  Word came last night that he died while traveling in Italy.

There were only two shows in our lifetime that had me riveted to the TV set in time certain fashion:  Saturday Night Live in the Belushi days, and The Sopranos on Sunday evening.  I can still recall when Miriam and I flew to a meeting in Florida while the show was in the height of its popularity.  We hailed a taxi to the hotel and the cabby making small talk asked us where we were from.  When we announced New Jersey, he thought for a moment and said: “Is it safe there?”  Puzzled at first we realized that he must have been referring to The Sopranos, and its depiction of a segment of Italian-Americans in the state.  The image portrayed of the community for nine years by David Chase generated its share of controversy.

We assured the cabbie that The Sopranos was only Hollywood, and that the show seemed as real as it did because Gandolfini and Company were gifted actors working with talented scriptwriters.  On reflection, perhaps it was something more …

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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