EDISON - James Gandolfini was born in Westwood and graduated from Park Ridge High School in 1979, where he played basketball and acted in school plays. He was awarded the title "Class Flirt" in his senior yearbook.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Rutgers University, where he worked as a bouncer at an on-campus pub. Gandolfini also worked as a bartender and club manager prior to embarking on his acting career.

Gandolfini was introduced to acting as a young man living in New York City, when he accompanied a friend, actor Roger Bart, to a Meisner technique acting class.