Sopranos Star Ray Abruzzo’s Cowboy Dad from Queens

“Everybody would gather around and we would improvise extemporaneously.”

In our latest episode, Erin and Elizabeth talk to actor Ray Abruzzo, who played the deceptively wise mobster-dummy Little Carmine Lupertazzi on The Sopranos (see Tell Me About Your Father episodes34-39 for our exegesis on the daddy issues inherent to that show). You may also know him from Night Court, LA Law, Dynasty, Mad Men, The Practice, and Transparent.

Little Carmine Little Carmining.

We came for Ray's insights on the family dynamics present in the ensemble casts of our favorite TV shows, and left with a heartwarming portrait of Ray's father, Paul, a colorful working-class character from Queens born to Italian immigrants, whose love of art and storytelling rubbed off on his son, and led Ray on an extraordinary pilgrimage to Sicily in search of his paternal roots that gave us chills.

Ray and Paul Abruzzo; Paul Abruzzo as a cowboy; Ray at his grandfather's grave in Italy.

Listen as Ray lets us in on the many parallel themes in both their lives—cowboys unafraid to embrace their creativity—and how Ray's dad may have inspired his committed delivery of some of Little Carmine's most memorable malapropisms by advising him to "improvise extemporaneously." Please enjoy our mellifluous conversation with Ray Abruzzo.

Listen here on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your shows.

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