James Gandolfini Funeral: Edie Falco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, More Sopranos Costars Pay Their Last Respects

Beloved actor remembered by friends and family at memorial service in New York City

By Josh Grossberg, Alexis L. Loinaz Jun 27, 2013 2:38 PMTags
Edith 'Edie' FalcoSTAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Friends and family gathered Thursday morning in New York City to say goodbye to James Gandolfini.

A funeral service was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where a slew of the actor's costars stopped by to pay their last respects to the Emmy-winning star, who died on June 19 in Rome at the age of 51 after suffering a heart attack.

Edie Falco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Joe Pantoliano, and Steve Buscemi were among the actor's Sopranos costars who were in attendance, along with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, NBC News anchor Brian Williams, and actress Julianna Margulies.

The service was officiated by the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, and the late actor's wife, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, was the first family member to speak.

"My husband was an honest, kind and loving man," she reportedly said, per the New York Daily News. "He cared more about others than himself. He took the time to ask others in the course of the day how they were doing."

The service was also open to the general public, with the church able to accommodate up to 2,000 people.

Longtime family friend Susan Aston recalled Gandolfini's extoradinary talent as an actor.

"A lot has been said about James' work. He was a master. As his friend and creative collaborator over 25 years, I can attest to that," she said. "He used his brilliant mind to ask the questions that would prepare his heart for the scene. But when the scene started, James came into absolute presence."

Sopranos mastermind David Chase ended up giving a heartfelt tribute in the form of a letter to the late star because, per the Daily News, he tried to write a traditional eulogy "but it came out like bad TV." The writer-producer told mourners in attendance that despite his manly image, the Emmy winner was still something of a kid at heart.

"And that's why I think you were such a great actor, because of that boy inside," Chase said. "I think your talent is that you can take the immensity of humankind and the universe and shine it right back at us."

According to the New York Post, Today's 90-minute mass is also being filmed by HBO which plans to make a video of the tribute to be given exclusively to the actor's family as a private gift from the network.