James Gandolfini dearest and nearest gathered at the St. John the Divine Cathedral Church in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York on earlier this morning to remember the late “Soprano” star.
The private funeral was a star-studded tribute with most “Sopranos” cast members such as Steve Schirripa, Dominic Chianese, Vincent Pastore, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Imperioli, Steve Buscemi, Tony Sirico, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Lorraine Bracco, Aida Turturro, and Edie Falco. Other famous mourners included Chris Christie (New Jersey Governor), John Turturro, Hilaria, Alec Baldwin and his pregnant wife.
Reverent Dr. James A. Kowalski led the ninety minutes service. Deborah Lin Gandolfini (James’ widow), was expected to provide a remembrance, as was David Chase (Sopranos creator), and family friends, Susan Aston and Thomas Richardson.
During the eulogy given by David Chase, he recalled shooting a “Sopranos” scene in which James, who was known for his intensity on the set, slammed a refrigerator door so hard that it broke, according to the Wrap. “Did it say anywhere in the script, ‘Tony destroys a refrigerator?’” David remembers saying to the powerful actor. “You destroyed the refrigerator.”
David Chase also shared a conversation that he had with James Gandolfini in which he confided, “You know what I want to be? A man. That is all. I want to be a man.” Chase noted that it was a surprise to him because the hulking star was so manly, though Chase did shared that he also saw “a sad boy, amazed and confused” inside the star – and thought that was what made James Gandolfini an excellent actor.
James Gandolfini longtime dialogue coach, Anton talked about working with Gandolfini in his home office. According to Associated Press, Anton described Gandolfini as a “big teddy bear of a friend.” She also commented “He worked hard….he was disciplined. He studied his roles and did his homework.”
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is one of the world’s largest cathedrals; it can hold up to 5,000 people and span two football fields. Fans of the Broadway, movie, and TV star also lined the sidewalks outside.
HBO, the cable network that made James Gandolfini a star by casting him as a mob boss, Tony Soprano in the hit series “Sopranos,” is footing the entire bill and had organized the whole event, according to the New York Post. According to the press, they filmed the entire ceremony, but it will not be shown publicly. It will be a gift to the James Gandolfini’s family, who is an award-winning actor that passed away due to a heart attack during his vacation in Rome on June 19th 2013 at the age of fifty-one.
Yesterday, James final goodbye was already underway when his friends and family gathered at a private wake in his native New Jersey.
The small, invite-only, and intimate event took place at the Robert Spearing Funeral Home in Park Ridge that is approximately ten minutes from Westwood, where James Gandolfini grew up. Deborah Gandolfini was seen arriving, and the couple’s eight months old daughter, Liliana, was thought to be under a covered baby carrier, which was toted inside.
Marcy Wudarski, who is James Gandolfini’s first wife, with whom he has a thirteen years old son, Michael, who had been traveling with the “Zero Dark Thirty” star in Rome, Italy at the time of his death, was also among the one hundred mourners. So were his two sisters, Johanna Antonacci and Leta Gandolfini. According to the local Star-Ledger, none of his “Sopranos” cast members attended, though they are expected to attend the larger funeral.
The local newspaper noted “dozens of friends and fans” lined the street outside the funeral home.
Last night, Broadway also paid tribute to the star. In tribute to James Gandolfini, Theaters on the Great White Way dimmed their marquee lights. In 2009, James Gandolfini received a Tony Award for his role in the award-winning “God of Carnage.”