NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It was a day filled with tributes and tears as family members, celebrities and friends said a final farewell to actor James Gandolfini.
David Chase, the creator of “The Sopranos,” said at Gandolfini’s funeral Thursday that the actor brought the traits of a sad boy, “amazed and confused,” to the role of Tony Soprano.
“You were a good boy,” Chase said during a ceremony held at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan.
One of four speakers at the funeral, Chase gave his remarks in the form of a letter to Gandolfini, in the present tense. The actor’s widow, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, and two family friends, were also speakers at the ceremony.
Deborah remembered her husband as an “honest, kind man” and thanked him for a beautiful life together, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.
The 51-year-old actor, best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series, died of a heart attack last week while vacationing with his son in Italy.
Susan Anton, who was Gandolfini’s longtime dialogue coach and collaborator, spoke of how the actor struggled with his work.
“He worked hard,” Anton said. “He was disciplined. He studied his roles and did his homework.” But when the cameras rolled, his work was an act of faith that carried him to an uncharted place, she said.
Celebrities and fellow actors were in the audience, along with members of the public who wanted to salute Gandolfini’s work.
“I’m a fan,” said Saul Stein, 60, from Harlem. “I came to pay my respects today because he’s a character I identify with, a family man.”
“Guy had charisma and too young to die. It’s terrible,” fan Millie Batyr of Middle Village told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
Members of “The Sopranos” who attended the funeral included Edie Falco, Joe Pantoliano, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Dominic Chianese, Steve Schirripa, Aida Turturro, Vincent Curatola, Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli.
Fan Paul Tremitiedi of Jersey City said he felt welcomed and honored to be in their company.
“You know I just kind of think it’s a Jersey-New York thing, I think kind of like everyone’s welcome, you know Italian thing – come one come all,” he told Diamond.
Gov. Chris Christie also made an appearance. Dick Cavett chatted with actor Steve Buscemi near the front of the church before the ceremony started.
“He was the best person,” said actress Katarina Pota, who played the role of Iliana the housekeeper on “The Sopranos.” “He was a wonderful actor and a good human being.”
While the world knew Tony Soprano, those who knew Gandolfini say acting was only a part of who he was.
“He cared about the military, he cared about kids who were fighting for the country and he was very deeply committed,” said photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.
A private wake for the actor was held Wednesday in Gandolfini’s hometown of Park Ridge, N.J. Security guards provided privacy for his family as fans watched from across the street.
“Just a very outgoing guy, very friendly, very popular in school, very sweet,” said Park Ridge resident Yvonne Holstrom.
Wednesday night, Broadway theaters dimmed their marquee lights in memory of Gandolfini, who earned a Tony Award nomination in 2009 for his role in “God of Carnage.”
Gandolfini’s 13-year-old son, Michael, was a Pallbearer. Gandolfini also left behind an 8-month-old daughter.
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