An artist with flair and everyone's favorite mob boss and domestically-challenged family man, The Sopranos star James Gandolfini (1961-2013) was born on this day in Westwood, New Jersey, a child of Italian immigrants.
"I'm standing on my parents' shoulders; they allowed me to do this silly job," said Gandolfini, who graduated from Rutgers University with a Communications degree before discovering the challenges... and joys... of acting.
"I just don't think I'm that interesting. I don't think what I have to say is that interesting. To hear me go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I mean, who...cares?" said the outspoken and notoriously press-shy Gandolfini in an interview.
Gandolfini made his Broadway debut in A Streecar Named Desire (1992) and film breakthrough as a hit man in True Romance (1993).
The talented character actor said he was shocked when he was first cast in what he called his "one great role" as Tony Soprano.
"I thought they'd hire, you know, one of these Irish-looking guys who are all over TV now," he said about starring in the critically-acclaimed HBO series.
"I'm not ready to say goodbye to the character, but I'm not going to miss him," Gandolfini said in 2004 as the series headed into its fifth season after a 15-month hiatus. The series ended in 2007, with Gandolfini winning three Emmy Awards during its six-season run.
"The character's interesting - I'm not," he said. "I've been very lucky, considering what I look like and what I do." Modesty aside, the charismatic actor was admired by fans, critics, and his peers.
With determination, he continued to tackle projects that celebrated his creativity and passion, including two remarkable documentaries about veterans affairs, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq (2007) and Wartorn: 1861-2010 (2011).
"Do I think a documentary is going to change the world?" he said. "No, but I think there will be individuals who will learn things from it, so that's enough."
Gandolfini died unexpectedly in 2013 while on vacation in Rome. Sopranos creator David Chase said, "He was a genius...one of the greatest actors of this or any time."
Do it with just a little more flair.