In one of the more saddening stories of the year thus far, actor James Gandolfini–most notably as Tony Soprano in the long-running HBO hit ‘The Sopranos’–died today at the age of 51 while vacationing in Italy. The three-time Emmy winning actor captivated our viewing pleasure from 1999-2007 as the temperamental, over-powering mob boss in one of the most successful television franchises in history. In this man’s humble opinion, the world lost one of the greatest actors of our generation earlier today.
Now aside from his acting accolades–which also included a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway work following the conclusion of ‘The Sopranos’, the majority of the public didn’t know much about the man they would come to know and love, especially what his life was like prior to the launching of his acting career.
Gandolfini, a New Jersey native, would go on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from Rutgers University following high school. While no one knew at the time the amount of success the actor would go on to obtain, he certainly never forgot where he came from, nor had any qualms about giving back.
Keeping pride in his heart for Rutgers, he gave back to the school whenever needed, while at the same time becoming one of its most outspoken advocates.
Most notably, in 2001, Gandolfini appeared in a commercial with then-unknown Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano promoting the program. While he supported all of the athletic programs of his alma mater, football was nearest to his heart. He certainly had to be satisfied when, in 2006, the football team played their way to their most famous season in school history, finishing the year with an 11-2 record.
Not only did we lose one of the greatest actors of our time today, we also lost one of the greatest advocates of college sports as well.
— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) June 20, 2013