Monday, June 24, 2013

6.24.13 Hero of the Day: James Gandolfini

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on



Name: James Gandolfini
Age: was 51
Occupation: actor
Last Seen: Italy
Awarded For: being one of the most-important actors in modern history


Of all the people God could have taken from us, he had to take James Gandolfini.

When The Sopranos debuted in 1999, it gave us a modern look into the world of the Mob through the eyes of its protagonist, Tony Soprano, played by Gandolfini. Tony was a hard-working man who despite his toughness as a mafia leader, tried to maintain a simple, suburban family life. He'd suffer panic attacks and would chat with his psychiatrist to try to eliminate the pain of being a mobster. To many, Tony Soprano was the modern spin of the mob, and James did it to a T.

For years, James admitted that portraying a mobster made him sick to his stomach, but maybe that's what he was born to do. A native New Jerseyan born to an Italian father, James was tall, had a balding head and stout. For years, he worked in films, playing medium roles such as a juror in 12 Angry Men and a lieutenant in Crimson Tide. But in 2009, the barge broke and The Sopranos and Tony Soprano was born.

Almost immediately, James Gandolfini was a household name. The Sopranos became must-see TV and when the FCC put the pressure on over-the-air TV networks because of Janet Jackson's nip-slip in 2004, HBO had no problems keeping The Sopranos rough and tough to make viewers see the reality of what it was Mafia. James won the affirmation of critics, winning three Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Tony Soprano.

After the show's infamous cancellation in 2007, Gandolfini continued acting, appearing in recent movies such as Zero Dark Thirty and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. He produced and starred in an HBO miniseries called Alive Day Memories where he talked to Iraq War veterans about their struggles with everyday life after their tour of duty.

When news broke out last Wednesday that James had suddenly died of a massive heart attack, the world became stunned. Why would a man like James Gandolfini die so young and still had a good life in front of him? God only knows. Of course, the tributes poured out from his friends, co-workers and co-stars. Even Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey ordered all flags be flown half-staff to honor one of that state's finest gentlemen.

I find it sad that this world is loaded with people who I wish would die, but that's the way God works I think. Maybe Rob Bell is right in his book Love Wins that we're all in hell as we speak, and that Heaven awaits. Good people die young, but there's idiots who live well past 90. Maybe he told James that his time was up on Planet Earth and it was time to move on.

But whatever God's plan is, James had a good ride.

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