The diner and ice cream parlor where Tony Soprano made his last small screen appearance in HBO’s The Sopranos is paying tribute to the late James Gandolfini in the most touching way possible: The booth Tony and his family sat at during their final moments is being kept empty for them.
According to the New York Post, Chris Carley, the owner of Bloomfield, NJ’s Holsten’s Confectionary, placed a “Reserved” sign at the booth in question after hearing of the tragic loss of the actor who brought Tony Soprano to life. He recalled of James Gandolfini, “During his down time, he’d be outside smoking a big cigar, talking to people. He seemed like a real regular guy.” Chris added that James was “really, really nice to the staff, giving autographs and taking pictures… One night, at 1am, he brought in a whole bunch of sushi at his own cost. Just a really nice guy.” After a 15-hour day, the proprietor noted, he could have been “cranky and tired, just like the rest of us”… but he never was.
There’s something about gestures like this that really tug at my heart strings. It reminds me of the “Speechless” image that was released after Looney Toons voice artist Mel Blanc’s death in 1989, or The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson special that aired in 1990 after Jim Henson’s passing. In a business that breeds diva behavior and a bizarre sense of entitlement, the fact that these artists were so beloved in addition to talented and successful is really a tribute to them as people.
Edie Falco, who played James’ on-screen wife, Carmela, said in a statement, “I am shocked and devastated by Jim’s passing. He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words. I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague. My heart goes out to his family. As those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together. The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.”
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, better known as Meadow Soprano, also expressed her grief, saying, “This news has left me heartbroken. I can only imagine the pain his family feels at this time, and my heart goes out to them, especially Deborah, Michael, and Liliana. I spent 10 years of my life studying and admiring one of the most brilliant actors, yes, but more importantly, one of the greatest men. Jim had the ability, unbeknownst to him, to make you feel like everything would be all right if he was around.”
Below, watch the final scene of The Sopranos where it all goes down (or does it?):
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.