1. James Gandolfini, Jr., was born in Westwood, New Jersey, on September 18, 1961 to Santa and James Gandolfini, Sr. His mother worked in a high school cafeteria, while his dad was a bricklayer and cement mason who later became the head custodian at Paramus High School. James Sr., also earned a Purple Heart in World War II.
2. Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey, and graduated from Park Ridge High School, where he played basketball and acted in school plays, in 1979. He was voted Class Flirt in his senior yearbook.
3. Gandolfini attended Rutgers University, where he earned a degree in communications and worked as a bouncer in an on-campus bar.
4. Gandolfini made his on-screen debut in 1987 playing an orderly in the film "Shock! Shock! Shock!" But it wasn't until he took on the role of Virgil in "True Romance" in 1993 that he began to get the attention of Hollywood. He also had notable roles in "Terminal Velocity," "Crimson Tide," Get Shorty," "The Juror," "Fallen" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" before landing the role of Tony Soprano in 1999.
5. As Tony Soprano, Gandolfini won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, three SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, the AFI Award for Male Actor of the Year and a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama.
6. Gandolfini appeared in 25 movies after the debut of "The Sopranos." They included "8mm," "The Mexican," Surviving Christmas," "All the King's Men," "The Taking of Pelham 123," "Where the Wild Things Are," "Welcome to the Rileys," Killing Them Softly" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
7. Gandolfini married model Deborah Lin in Hawaii after two years of dating. They welcomed daughter Liliana on October 10, 2012. Gandolfini also has a son, 13-year-old Michael, with ex-wife Marcy Wudarski. The couple divorced in 2002.