THE BIG PICTURE
- The Sopranos revolves around Tony Soprano’s struggle to balance his home life and his work as a mob boss, providing a unique glimpse into his world.
- The DiMeo crime family, founded by Ercole DiMeo, includes four main branches that intertwine: Soprano, DeAngelis, Blundetto, and Aprile families.
- The connections between the Soprano family, DeAngelis family, Blundetto family, and Aprile family are complex and play a significant role in the series, creating a web of relationships and conflicts.
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. It namely centers around eventual mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as his recent string of panic attacks force him to seek professional help in the form of the therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Tony’s sessions with Dr Melfi offer the audience a window into the world of a man who struggles to balance his home life and his work as a Mafioso. 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 his crime “family” end? In truth, the two family trees intertwine quite a bit.
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, making Jackie Aprile (Michael Rispoli) boss by the time of the show’s pilot (or “acting boss” as he put it, out of respect for Don DiMeo). DiMeo never appears in the series but is seen in the show’s prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark, portrayed by showrunner and Sopranos creator David Chase. How both the family hierarchy and the “family” hierarchy work can confuse some fans since it includes four main branches that all interconnect; the Soprano, DeAngelis, Blundetto, and Aprile families.
The Soprano Family Tree Goes All the Way Back To “The Old Country”
The name “Ercole” refers to Hercules, and Tony Soprano’s great-grandfather was also named Ercole, but is not to 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. They immigrated to the US from Avellino in 1910 or 1911, according to Tony. The oldest of their 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 yet another Ercole (known as Eckley), who Junior reveals was the third Soprano brother, “strong as a bull and handsome like George Raft.” Tony’s Uncle Eckley was committed to a mental institute 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 Californian 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. Their mother and Tony’s wife Carmela (Edie Falco) is how the Sopranos married into the DeAngelis family.
The DeAngelis Family Links 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 in their 70s for the majority of the series’ run, and have been married for over 40 years. Their daughter Carmela DeAngelis became Carmela Soprano. Hugh’s sister Lena however, 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 called Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), the protagonist and titular “Molti-Santi” of The Many Saints of Newark. Dickie is the father of The Sopranos‘ Christopher (Michael Imperioli) making Christopher and Carmela first cousins, once removed.
The Blundetto Family Is Linked to the DeAngelis and 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 of whom is a retired soldier from Uncle Junior’s crew. Albert, who died before the show took place, 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 Tony B 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 links Christopher and Tony Soprano 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 twin boys, Justin and Jason, and an estranged daughter named Kelly, a contemporary of Meadow Soprano. In the show’s fifth season, Tony B makes his first appearance having served 16 years in prison on racketeering charges. His inclusion throws another spanner in the works, much in the same way as any of the other antagonists-of-the-season had. But this wasn’t the first time Steve Buscemi got involved with the show, having directed the fan-favorite ‘Pine Barrens’ episode in Season 3 in which Christopher and Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) get stranded in the snow. The episode was written by Terence Winter who went on to create Boardwalk Empire starring Buscemi in the leading role.
The Apriles Are Also Connected to the Criminal Empire
When the show’s first series begins, and Tony Soprano is yet to take over the DiMeo crime family himself, it rests in the hands of his close friend Jackie Aprile. The character is based on the real-life DeCavalcante mob boss Gioacchino Amari, who much like 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 mob. Jackie Aprile Sr is one of four siblings including his brother Richie Aprile (David Proval) who, similarly to Tony B, joins the show for a season after being released from a ten-year prison sentence. Richie briefly becomes Janice Soprano’s fiancée between her two marriages.
Another of Jackie and Richie Aprile’s siblings is their unnamed sister, who never appears on the show, but married a member of the Spatafore family. Her sons Bryan (Vincent Orofino) and Vito (Joseph R. Gannascoli) feature more prominently in the series. Vito especially gets notable screentime for a storyline in which the mobster deals with his closeted 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 on the show for being Christopher Moltisanti’s longtime girlfriend, making Christopher the most important connective tissue of the entire Soprano family tree. This is why both her cousin Vito Spatafore and uncle Richie Aprile express a distaste for Christopher who often treats Adrianna disrespectfully. “I overhear you raise your hands to my niece again, next time you won’t see my face,” Richie warns Christopher. “You want to raise your hands, you give her your last name.” One dreads to think how many of the aforementioned characters only married their significant other for this reason. Marone!