James Gandolfini Funeral: Family, Co-Stars Pay Last Respects

Jun 27, 2013 1:09pm

Family and friends gathered at a New York City cathedral Thursday morning to say goodbye to “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini.

The 90-minute service, led by the Very Reverend Dr. A James Kowalski, was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was closed to the press but open to the general public. About 300 to 500 people lined the streets waiting to be let in for the 10 a.m. service, with the church able to accommodate 2,000.

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Richard Drew/AP Photo

A slew of famous faces came to pay their final respects to the Emmy Award-winning actor, who died on June 19 from a heart attack during a trip to Rome with his 13-year-old son Michael. Gandolfini was 51.

PHOTOS: Stars Say Farewell to Hollywood Legend

Among Gandolfini’s “Sopranos” co-stars present were Edie Falco, Joe Pantoliano and Aida Turturro, who were among the first to arrive. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Tony Sirico and Steve Buscemi attended, as well as “Sopranos” creator David Chase, who later spoke at the funeral.

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a surprise appearance. Other famous faces included NBC News anchor Brian Williams, actress Julianna Margulies and actor Alec Baldwin and his pregnant wife Hilaria.

Gandolfini’s wife Deborah Lin Gandolfini and the mother of his 9-month-old daughter Lily, was the first to speak at the service.

Get more on the life and career of James Gandolfini

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

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James Gandolfini's son Michael (Richard Drew/AP Photo)

Family friends Thomas Richardson and Susan Aston also spoke. Aston spoke about Gandolfini, the artist.

“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, according to the Daily News.

Rather than deliver a eulogy, Chase wrote a letter to his old friend, commenting on the boy-like quality that Gandolfini maintained.

“That’s why I think you were such a great actor, because of that boy inside. I think your talent is that you can take the immensity of humankind and the universe and shine it right back at us,” he said, according to the Daily News.

After the service, Gandolfini’s co-star Joe Pantoliano told ABC News, “It was very beautiful. The priest really made a lot of sense and took away a lot of pain that I had in my heart. David (Chase) was of course  wonderful and funny. The music was great, everybody had communion and I think Jimmy is up there shaking his head and calling us all idiots.”

As for how his co-star should be remembered, Pantoliano said, “I would want them (fans) to understand James was an inspired young kid from New Jersey that wanted to be an actor that did his dues, he busted his a**, he went to acting school…. That’s what he should be remembered, as an amazing artist.”

ABC News’ Elicia Dover and David Blaustein contributed to this report.

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