On this day in 1963, the actress Edie Falco, best known for her role as mob wife Carmela Soprano on the hit television drama The Sopranos, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
The Sopranos, proclaimed by some critics to be the greatest TV series of all time, debuted on HBO in January 1999. The show centered around the personal and professional problems of the New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini. Complicating Tony’s life were a large cast of characters–among them, his materialistic wife Carmela, his therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), his uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), his children Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and A.J. (Rober Iler) and his crime-world crew, including Paulie “Walnuts” Gaultieri (Tony Sirico), Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) and Carmela’s cousin Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). The brainchild of writer and producer David Chase, the show became known for its dark, edgy style, its graphic violence and profanity and its frequent pop-culture references.
As the well-coiffed, conflicted Mrs. Soprano, Falco was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in each year of the The Sopranos’ six-season run and won the award three times. In 2003, during the show’s fourth season, she scored a rare trifecta, winning a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award, and an Emmy in the same year. Falco’s Carmela enjoyed the lavish lifestyle her husband’s profession provided, but struggled with his infidelities and the fact that his illegal career was at odds with her religious faith. The final episode of The Sopranos aired June 10, 2007; almost 12 million people tuned in for the finale, which provoked fierce debate among the show’s die-hard fans over its open-ended final scene.
Prior to her breakout role on The Sopranos, Falco acted on Broadway and appeared on such TV shows as Oz, Law & Order and Homicide. Her first big film break came with a small speaking role in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway (1994). She went on to appear in A Price Above Rubies (1998), Judy Berlin (1999), Sunshine State (2002) and Freedomland (2006). More recently, Falco guest-starred in several episodes of the acclaimed NBC sitcom 30 Rock.