The Sopranos

Tony Soprano Had a Real Life Inspiration, That’s Why He Was a Perfect Mobster

You can't be a part of a mob if you don't feel like you belong. So believing is key.

The Sopranos is one of the most iconic mob TV shows of all time. The fandom of the series is so huge and includes people of all ages and status.

The charismatic leader of the show, Tony Soprano, amazingly portrayed by James Gandolfini, just made everyone fall in love with his character, even though he was a mafioso.

It is well known that the show’s creator, David Chase, was inspired by real crimes as well as mobsters and fictional gangster movies.

But he actually dug deeper and created a show that not only covered the typical storylines, but also added some twists that made it unique. For example, the mental health of a gangster. You’ll never see that in any other show.

But there does seem to be a real-life inspiration for Tony Soprano. As much as his character could be a hodgepodge of different mobsters, there is one person with whom Tony shares the most similarities.

The real-world crime figure most commonly considered to be the “real” Tony Soprano is Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo.

A documentary that premiered in 2006 actually went to compare the fictional life of Tony Soprano to the misadventures of his “real-life” prototype Palermo. Needless to say, it was a lot easier to see how similar the two are after the movie.

There were a lot of things that seemed kind of the same in their lives, but of course the main one was that Palermo was the actual boss of the DeCavalcante crime family, while Tony was in control of the Sopranos’ DiMeo crime family. Both of them are located in New Jersey.

A vaguely familiar sex scandal that involved bisexual monster John “Johnny Boy” D’Amato who enjoyed paying visits to swinger clubs once led to a coup. D’Amato died in it, which left Palermo in charge of the family.

Kinda sounds like The Sopranos, doesn’t it?

The only thing that is different in their stories is actually how they have ended. Facing prison, Palermo turned state’s witness, admitting to several murders, including the plot to kill John D’Amato, and implicating members of the DeCavalcante family in several crimes.

But Tony Soprano never agreed to that, and also never was recorded by the various informants that were sent to gather evidence on him.

Yet Tony’s fate may have been worse than Palermo’s. We all remember the series’ shocking finale.

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