June 20, 2013

Gandolfini mourned in NJ's 'Sopranos' towns

The Associated Press

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John Sacco Sr. hands his 6-month-old grandson, Jack Russo, to Pete Canu, a customer in Sacco's Elizabeth, N.J., butcher shop, Thursday. Canu says he liked the realism and human flaws of actor James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano character, but Sacco said, "The Sopranos perpetuated and spread negative stereotypes about Italian-Americans."

AP

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A reserved sign sits on the booth where the last show of the HBO series "The Sopranos" was filmed at Holsten's ice cream parlor in Bloomfield, N.J.

AP

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The house where Tony Soprano lived is in North Caldwell, and fans were stopping by to show their respects to Gandolfini. Michael Primamore, who lives nearby and whose family runs an auto repair business, left a bag of dried ziti next to the candles that sprouted in the driveway.

He said the show accurately reflected the experiences of his and other Italian-American families who settled in Newark before moving to the suburbs.

"The show was full of so many northern New Jersey Italian expressions, if you weren't raised in that world, you wouldn't get some parts of it," he said. "The show reached me on a personal level in so many ways."

Several North Caldwell residents recalled seeing and meeting cast members.

"They were great people, very personable," said Chris Masi, who said he met Gandolfini. "They would come up and give you a hug. They put us on the map. It meant a lot."

Fans also gathered at Holsten's, the Bloomfield ice cream parlor where the show's famous cut-to-black last scene was shot.

"I'm sad he died," said Fred O'Neil of Montclair, who, like Gandolfini, is 51. "I can't believe it. It makes me think of my own mortality."

Primamore said his reaction to Gandolfini's death was a lot like what Tony Soprano's would have been: "It's a tragedy. What are you gonna do?"

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