The big picture
- The sopranos revolves around Tony Soprano’s struggle to balance his personal life and his work as a mafia boss, and offers a unique insight into his world.
- Founded by Ercole DiMeo, the DiMeo crime family includes four main interlocking branches: the Soprano, DeAngelis, Blundetto and Aprile families.
- The connections between the Soprano, DeAngelis, Blundetto and Aprile families are complex and play an important role in the series, creating a web of relationships and conflict.
HBO’s The sopranos ran from 1999 to 2007 and followed the stories of the DiMeo crime family, also known as the North Jersey Mob. The focus is on the later mafia boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as his recent panic attacks force him to seek professional help in the form of therapist Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Tony’s sessions with Dr. Melfi offer audiences a glimpse into the world of a man who struggles to balance his private life and his work as a mobster. As the show’s tagline suggests, “If one family doesn’t kill him, the other family will”! But where does Tony’s biological family begin and where does his crime “family” end? In fact, the two family trees are quite closely linked.
According to the series, the DiMeo crime family was founded by Ercole DiMeo in the early 1940s until he received a prison sentence in 1995, leaving Jackie Aprile (Michael Rispoli) boss at the time of the series’ pilot episode (or “acting boss”, as he put it out of respect for Don DiMeo). DiMeo never appears in the series, but is seen in the series’ prequel film The Many Saints of NewarkPortrayed by showrunner and Sopranos Creator David Chase. How both the Family Hierarchy and the “Family” Hierarchy work may confuse some fans, as it includes four main branches that are all interconnected; the Soprano, DeAngelis, Blundetto and Aprile families.
The soprano family tree goes back to the “Altes Land”.
The name “Ercole” refers to Hercules, and Tony Soprano’s great-grandfather was also named Ercole, but should not be confused with Ercole DiMeo. Ercole Soprano had a son, Corrado John Soprano Sr., who married Mariangela D’Agostino, neither of whom appeared on the show. According to Tony, they emigrated to the United States from Avellino in 1910 or 1911. The eldest of her three children was Corrado Jr., also known as “Uncle June,” and was portrayed by Dominic Chianese in the show and Corey Stoll in the movie. Giovanni “Johnny Boy” soprano (Joseph Siravo/Jon Bernthal) was born a year or two later. There was also another Ercole (known as Eckley), who Junior reveals was the third Soprano brother, “strong as a bull and handsome as George Raft.” Tony’s Uncle Eckley was committed to a mental institution and kept a secret even from Tony.
Johnny married Livia Pollio (Nancy Marchand Vera Farmiga) and had Tony, Janice (Aida Turturro) and Barbara (Nicole Burdette/Danielle De Vecchio). Barbara and her husband Tom Giglione had two children named Thomas III and Alyssa. After briefly joining a California ashram, Janice changed her name to Parvati. Wasatch married a Québécois and had an estranged son named Harpo. During the events of the series, she remarries widower Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa). Tony’s daughter Meadow’s (Jamie Lynn Sigler) full name is Mariangela, after her great-grandmother and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler) is named after Tony himself. Her mother and Tony’s wife Carmela (Edie Falco) is the Sopranos’ way of marrying into the DeAngelis family.
The DeAngelis family connects Carmela to Christopher Moltisanti
Orazio DeAngelis and Concetta Sposato were a married couple of the same generation as Ercole and Mariangela Soprano. Their children were Hugh (Tom Aldredge) and Lena DeAngelis. Hugh and his wife Mary (Suzanne Shepherd) are over 70 for most of the series and have been married for over 40 years. Her daughter Carmela DeAngelis became Carmela Soprano. However, Hugh’s sister Lena married Aldo Moltisanti (Ray Liotta), known as “Hollywood Dick.” Aldo’s twin brother Salvatore was also played by Ray Liotta. Aldo and Lena had a son named Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), the protagonist and eponymous “Molti-Santi” from The Many Saints of Newark. Dickie is the father of The sopranos‘Christopher (Michael Imperioli) makes Christopher and Carmela first cousins once removed.
The Blundetto family is connected to the DeAngelis and The Sopranos
Christopher’s mother and Dickie Moltisanti’s wife Joanne (Marianne Leone) was a Blundetto before marriage. Her maiden name is shared by her brothers Albert and Patrizio Blundetto (Frank Albanese), the latter is a retired soldier from Uncle Junior’s team. Albert, who died before the show, was the father of Anthony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi) also known as “Tony B” to avoid confusion with Tony Soprano, who grew up with him. This makes Blundetto Christopher’s first cousin on his father’s side, but his mother, Quintina Blundetto (Barbara Andres/Rae Allen) was one of four Pollio sisters, including Tony Soprano’s mother Livia. Therefore, the connective tissue that ties Christopher and Tony Soprano together by blood is Tony B. Soprano and Blundetto were also known as “Tony Uncle Johnny” and “Tony Uncle Al” after their respective fathers.
With his ex-wife Nancy, Tony B has two twins, Justin and Jason, and an estranged daughter named Kelly, a contemporary of the meadow soprano. In the fifth season of the series, Tony B makes his first appearance after serving 16 years in prison for extortion. His inclusion further throws a spanner in the works, much like it did with all of the other antagonists this season. However, this wasn’t the first time Steve Buscemi was involved with the show, as he directed the fan-favorite “Pine Barrens” episode in Season 3, which starred Christopher and Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) stranded in the snow. The episode was written by Terence Winters who then created Boardwalk Empire with Buscemi in the lead role.
The Apriles are also connected to the criminal empire
When the first season of the series begins and Tony Soprano has not yet taken over the DiMeo crime family himself, everything is in the hands of his close friend Jackie Aprile. The character is based on the real crime boss DeCavalcante Gioacchino Amariwho is very similar to Jackie, died of stomach cancer in 1997 (the same year as). The sopranos produced its pilot episode). Jackie is survived by his widow Rosalie (Sharon Angela) his daughter Kelli (Melissa Marsala) and his son Jackie Jr (Jason Cerbone). Both children are contemporaries of Meadow, with Jackie Jr.’s romantic interests clashing with his budding career as part of the Mafia. Jackie Aprile Sr. is one of four siblings, including his brother Richie Aprile (David Proval), who, similar to Tony B, joins the show for one season following his release from a ten-year prison sentence. Richie briefly becomes Janice Soprano’s fiancée between her two marriages.
Another sibling of Jackie and Richie Aprile is their unnamed sister, who never appears in the series but married a member of the Spatafore family. Her sons Bryan (Vincent Orofino) and Vito (Joseph R. Gannascoli) play a larger role in the series. Above all, Vito is given remarkable time for a storyline in which the gangster deals with his secret homosexuality.
The last of the Aprile siblings is Liz (Patty McCormack), who, after marrying into the La Cerva family, has a daughter, Adriana La Cerva (Drea De Matteo). Adrianna is best known in the series as Christopher Moltisanti’s long-time girlfriend, making Christopher the most important link in the entire Soprano family tree. Because of this, both her cousin Vito Spatafore and her uncle Richie Aprile express a dislike for Christopher, who often treats Adrianna disrespectfully. “I hear you raising your hands to my niece again, next time you won’t see my face,” Richie warns Christopher. “You want to raise your hands, give her your last name.” It’s hard to imagine that many of the characters mentioned above married their significant other just for this reason. Chestnut!