By: Todd Quinones
WESTVILLE, N.J., (CBS) — He was Tony Soprano, the New Jersey gangster we hated to love.
Tony Soprano quickly became an iconic character in American television. Soprano the character was a tough man and a murderer, but James Gandolfini, the New Jersey born actor, was something entirely different.
That’s according to Langhorne actor Paolo Colandrea. He played the man in the Members Only jacket in the famous final episode of The Sopranos.
“In real life he’s a sweet person,” said Colandrea. “Really, really sweet person. Very family, very giving person. He’s very much a giving person.”
Colandrea was at the airport and he was on his way to Italy. He was planning to visit Gandolfini while there. He says he was stunned by the sudden loss of his friend.
“I spoke to him about five days ago. Wonderful, wonderful person. I have no words,” Colandrea said.
The popular TV series spawned Tony Soprano Pizza, the South Jersey chain that now includes about a dozen locations. Tony Graffeo owns several of them including this one in Westville, New Jersey.
“We were big fans of the show, Sunday nights nine o’clock was a ritual. You know, make a pizza, go home, watch the show and, you know, every Sunday without fail,” said Graffeo.
Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah, their daughter and a son from another marriage.