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To Neighbors, Gandolfini Was Far From Gruff Mob Boss He Played on TV

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini may be best known for playing the larger-than-life character Tony Soprano on the acclaimed HBO series, but in his quaint Manhattan neighborhood, the 51-year-old who died suddenly on Wednesday is being remembered as an unassuming, friendly guy who walked his beloved pooch through the streets of Tribeca each morning.

Sara Mattler, 32, said she works in a building owned by Gandolfini and saw him every day at the small Beach Street Eatery where two photos of the "Sopranos" star hang on the wall.

"I would see him getting coffee with his dog," she said. "He was always so sweet with his dog, and made sure the dog had water while he ran in on a hot day."

She added: "I work with a bunch of girls, it was always, 'Hi girls, how are you?' Just a nice neighborhood person, who happened to be famous."

A memorial of candles, flowers and Season 3 of the Sopranos sprouted up alongside his Greenwich Street home in TriBeCa as mourners and neighbors stopped by to pay their respects.

Malcolm Andrew, a 55-year-old carpenter in Lower Manhattan, was among them. He remembered being stunned when he was approached by Gandolfini.

"He's asking me what I'm doing... 'What's going on today?' I wasn't approaching him, [trying to] show some sort of  respect, but I thought it was nice that he's approaching me," Matthew said.

Gandolfini and his wife, Deborah, were married in 2008 and have a daughter, Liliana, who is eight months old.

Rosalie Acinapura, 69, lives a few blocks away and said she often sees Deborah walking the family's dog in the morning: "She was so happy when they had a child," she said, "and now that child won't know him, which is very sad."

In a statement, HBO called the actor a great talent and a gentle and loving person.
Gandolfini played conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano in the groundbreaking HBO series that aired from 1999 to 2007. His film credits included "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Killing Them Softly," and he appeared in the Broadway production "God of Carnage."
- With the Associated Press
(Photo: A memorial forms outside of James Gandolfini's TriBeCa apartment. Stephen Nessen/WNYC)
A photo of actor James Gandolfini hangs in the Beach Street Eatery in TriBeCa where Gandolfini often visited. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)
Fans stop by a memorial outside of Gandolfini's TriBeCa apartment to snap photos Thursday (Stephen Nessen/WNYC).

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Comments [5]

Rona Barret is right about not just the dumb display downtown and people's pathetic state to photograph it, but the whole circus surrounding this average actor's demise - the lowering of flags, the Cathedral funeral service with another WNYC blog showing the "stand-ins" shamelessly grinning for the camera on the steps. And her assessment of the "tiresome, 3rd rate portrayal of an Italian-American criminal" needed to be said - after the first season. How Italian-Americans can buy into their own defamation is a masterpiece of media manipulation; "some attention better than none" as this series had no redeeming value other than to allow for sightings of familiar stores & landscapes. Our ancestors left this behind, or wanted to, or even if not, never wanted their kids to follow ("The Godfather"). Extolling "family"? "Moonstruck" had not one mafia mention. And the idiotic, "He walked his dog and spoke to us!" I hope he cleaned up after the dog, as he, and David Chase - DeCesare - left behind a cultural mess.

Jul. 15 2013 06:10 PM
Cary from NYC

Dear Rona, what a bitter pill you are!

Jun. 20 2013 08:30 PM
Susan Campochiaro from NYC

Thank you James for showing us all how acting is really done! Bravo!

I know you were proud to be an Italian-American and from both Jersey and NYC..So am I. You made it great to
be from Jersey!

I send blessings to your family and your friends and my condolences as well.

Rest in Peace!
Say hello to my parents, Joe & Caroline, my brother-in-law ,John, and to my dear friend who was a great theatrical agent in NYC --
Carole J. Russo, Agents for the Arts.

With Love,
Susan Campochiaro

Jun. 20 2013 08:27 PM
Rona Barrett from LA LA Land

Imagine how sad and meaningless your life is that you have time and money to drop off flowers and candles outside of a dead movie star's apartment! And even more so for those taking pictures of the "makeshift memorial"!!

Thank God they won't be able to make a stupid Sopranos sequel now. Eh, they probably will anyway.

Thank you James, for your tiresome, third rate portrayal of an Italian-American criminal.

Jun. 20 2013 02:42 PM
gravytop

A ridiculous headline. When Bowie dies, will the headline be: "Rock Star remembered as being much more attractive than Elephant Man he portrayed in film."

Jun. 20 2013 12:29 PM

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