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June 21, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Remembering Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company)

James Gandolfini
(AP Photo/The Weinstein Company)

The death of James Gandolfini at age 51 is a devastating loss for his family, friends, professional colleagues and all of his fans.

My humble measure of an actor’s greatness is the extent to which they own a role. He will forever be mob boss Tony Soprano.

I came to the HBO show, “The Sopranos” a bit late. I caught up in glorious fashion with some DVDs on vacation. I think Season 2 was the best of the best. The whole series ended in irritating fashion, with a curious and unrequited “to be continued, perhaps” episode.

Gandolfini played the mob boss to perfection, and he excelled with the help of a glorious cast, including, and especially, Edie Falco, as wife Carmela. Tony Sirico as Paulie Gualtieri was another favorite.

Like Gandolfini, Helen Mirren is on my short list of actors who could not be replaced in a role. Her reign as  DCI Jane Tennison in the British police series, “Prime Suspect,” rises to the highest level.

I find the talents of Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence to be extraordinary. She won top honors for “Silver Linings Playbook,” with a performance that dazzled. She got me to watch “The Hunger Games,” after a “meh” reaction to the first book. Lawrence has me looking for “Winter’s Bone.”

Gandolfini’s passage inspires this kind of ruminating about acting excellence. Like the grief-stricken stripper at the Bada Bing!, who said she would always remember where she was when she heard about the death of Jackie Aprile, Sr., I will respectfully recall the greatness of the portrayer of Tony Soprano.

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