"The Sopranos" — HBO's groundbreaking series and a cultural landmark to this day — launched 20 years ago on Jan. 10, 1999.
And while the series, of course, was New Jersey-centric, it did have several important Long Island connections. The cast included four Long Islanders: Edie Falco (Northport), who played Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) long-suffering-but-happy-to-look-the-other-way spouse, Carmela Soprano; Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Jericho), daughter Meadow; Lorraine Bracco (Westbury), shrink Dr. Jennifer Melfi; and Joseph R. Gannascoli (East Rockaway), the gay mob associate, Vito Spatafore.
Off camera, Long Island also made one huge contribution: the director, Tim Van Patten. Emmy winner Van Patten is one of TV's top directors ("Game of Thrones," "Deadwood," "Boardwalk Empire") and handled about 20 "Sopranos" episodes. Born in Brooklyn, he was raised in Massapequa, and graduated from Massapequa High School in 1977.
The vast majority of "The Sopranos'" many locations were shot in New Jersey, but the series occasionally drifted east from its Long Island City home base, Silvercup Studios. The exhaustive www.sopranos-locations.com lists a few:
The People's Church on Delaware Avenue in Long Beach (episode 6, season 6); the Riverhead Raceway on Old Country Road in Riverhead (episode 7, season 5); and the old (now closed) World Gym on Hawkins Avenue in Ronkonkoma (which briefly appeared in the 5th season). "The Sopranos" also shot the 60th episode, or the eighth of season 5 ("Marco Polo"), on Mark Drive in Atlantic Beach.
And lest we forget, as if possible: Hesh Rabkin (Jerry Adler), loan shark and Sopranos adviser, lived in Glen Head (the location shoot for his home, per the website, was on Hegemans Lane.) Leonard's of Great Neck also had a starring role the 5th episode of the 6th season, specifically another fan fave — "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request..." This turned out particularly well for Leonard's, less so for "Johnny Sack" (Vincent Curatola) of the rival Lupertazzi family, who was arrested at his own daughter's wedding.
In the 85th and next to last episode, "The Blue Comet," Bobby Baccalieri (Steven R. Schirripa) heads to a hobby store in Lynbrook to buy that rare train set, the Blue Comet. Alas, poor Bobby met his end there. And yes, this was filmed at the real TrainLand at 293 Sunrise Hwy.
Long Island also tangentially figures in the death of crime boss Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent), gunned down at a gas station in what was said to be Oyster Bay in the final episode. The location of this real Raceway gas station? Morris Plains, New Jersey.
Meanwhile, to mark the anniversary, the entire final season will air, beginning at noon Thursday on HBO2.
Meanwhile, all six seasons are streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now, while nonsubscribers can stream the pilot at www.hbo.com/watch-free-episodes.the-sopranos. There are also "fan favorite episode" links at both streaming services. (The top fan favorite? "College," from season one.)