Friday, June 21, 2013


I don't think I ever used this blog to eulogize an actor before, but I have to say something about the premature departure of James Gandolfini at the all too early age of 51. There is a nice piece about him and the man he was in The Atlantic. My connection? I worked with him for a period of years from the mid 80's in to the 90's. The first time I met him was when he was in Goodfellas with Robert DeNiro. I was employed as an all purpose employee of the little company, Temptu Marketing  in lower Manhattan...we had a loft on Hudson Street in the ancient red brick Wells Fargo building across from the exit of the Holland Tunnel in Tribeca. We did all sorts of things, but we had originated a technique of temporary tattoo make up. The first commercial application in movies was the Scorcese film, After Hours. Bobby DeNiro lived on the next block on Greenwich, so I started to work with him. I was among other things, the graphic designer for the little company. So I would ride my bike to work and unlock the office in the morning to find DeNiro and his make up artist, Ilona Hermann parked out in front of the building in an an ancient station wagon waiting to pounce on me screaming with her Hungarian accent, "The Jesus is all wrong. The Jesus is backwards!" Frankly, the first time this happened, I had no idea who they was before 9 am fer kissakes! I dropped my coffee on the sidewalk trying to escape these crazy people...I had a great relationship with DeNiro, I did all the design work for his skin in Cape Fear...but Gandolfini was an ongoing relationship. We actually became friends of sorts. He was a truly real guy. I would go to a bar with him and we'd drink a few beers and I'd do sketches based on the ideas he had for his current project. I designed with his encouragement, some of the most god awful tattoos any one ever saw and figured out how to apply them so they would look like they had been on his skin for 25 years. After the company became a little more successful, we were able to have a second space out in Long Island City that we used as a sort of manufacturing facility and print shop.  It was only 2 blocks from the Silvercup Studios where the interiors for the series, The Sopranos was shot. So, we were like a fast food special delivery makeup supply shop. I ended up biking over to the studio with the special order tattoo makeup only hours after we conceived,designed and printed it, then getting to do the application and hang out and watch the scene being shot. After I left the company and continued to work as a free lance consultant, James Gandofini would always ask to have me in on the project. The last time I saw him was totally by chance. I was with my wife in Sarlat, France and wandering around on the streets and suddenly we were both staring at each other in disbelief saying, "Hey, whatta you doin here?"

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