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The Montvale Service Area on the Garden State Parkway has been renamed in honor of actor James Gandolfini, a proud New Jerseyan whose portrayal of the fictional New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano has made him an icon in his native state and earned him a place in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
The name change became official this week when “James Gandolfini Service Area” signs were installed on the Parkway.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced last year that Parkway service areas would be renamed to honor New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees in the arts, entertainment, and sports.
Montvale is the sixth service area to be renamed so far. Cheesequake has been renamed for rock star Jon Bon Jovi, Forked River for salsa star Celia Cruz, Brookdale North for baseball legend Larry Doby, Monmouth for children’s author Judy Blume, and Atlantic for singer Frank Sinatra.
Other New Jersey Hall of Fame members who will have Parkway service areas renamed in their honor include journalist Connie Chung (Brookdale South) and singer Whitney Houston (Vauxhall).
The Sopranos, which ran on HBO for six seasons between 1999 and 2007, is a fixture on critics’ lists of the greatest TV dramas of all time. Gandolfini’s work on the show earned him three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe. New Jersey’s toll roads appeared regularly on the show. The opening credits featured Gandolfini’s character driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. And an episode in Season 3 entitled “Army of One” was recorded inside the service area that now bears Gandolfini’s name.
Gandolfini grew up in Park Ridge. He graduated from Park Ridge High School and Rutgers University. He died of a heart attack in 2013 at age 51 and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame the following year.