James Gandolfini Honored With Street Name as Family, Stars Attend

Monday, 02 Dec 2013 05:37 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Family of James Gandolfini — both off and on-screen, including "Sopranos" cast members — visited the New Jersey community where Gandolfini grew up to honor the late actor Sunday as the town named a street after him.

Park Ridge, N.J., officials dedicated a portion of Park Avenue to Gandolfini, who died in June at age 51 of a heart attack, and the Borough Council also named Sunday “James Gandolfini Day,” The Bergen Record reported. In attendance along with Gandolfini’s wife, Deborah Lin, and two children, Michael and Liliana, were "Sopranos" cast members Steve Schirripa, Vincent Curatola, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chianese, Vincent Pastore, and John Ventimiglia.

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Michael, 14, said he remembered going to Park Ridge and eating at the corner diner with his father.

“He just told me every story about every place here,” the boy said, and added that his father, who graduated from Park Ridge High School and Rutgers University, “would be more honored than anything to be known as a true Jersey guy,” the Record reported.

That was what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Gandolfini after his death.

The hundreds who came to honor Gandolfini drew a joke from Mayor Terence Maguire, the Record said: “We thought maybe we were going to get a mob. It looks like we did.”

Gandolfini’s death in June was a shock to "Sopranos" fans and many in the filmmaking industry.

Gandolfini was much loved in his role as Tony Soprano, and came to success relatively late in life at age 37 when he auditioned for the role that would define his acting career, overwhelming smaller parts in movies like “Get Shorty” and “True Romance.” He had assumed he would fail to get the part.

“I thought that they would hire some good-looking guy, not George Clooney, but some Italian George Clooney, and that would be that,” the New Yorker quoted Gandolfini as saying. But he got the part, going on to fascinate the television audience in a role the magazine described as “lovable, repulsive, cunning, ignorant, brutal”; Gandolfini brought Tony Soprano “ruthlessly alive.”

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