Ross Douthat called him “the best actor in the best TV show of all time.” I consider that to be a fair description. I will never forget Tony proclaiming in one episode “He ain’t got ungatz” (sp?) and suddenly understanding what my father had meant by that many years ago. In my dotage I hope to watch through all of the episodes once again. Here is one good obituary; Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge, New Jersey and was born in Westwood, both very close to my own upbringing.
Gandolfini was not very well known when he was cast as Tony Soprano, and of course this raises the broader question of how much talent is actually out there.