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The alleged true story that inspired The Sopranos

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The Sopranos is based on the life of mob boss, Tony Soprano, who is believed to have been mirrored after real-life mob boss, Vincent Palermo. 

The Sopranos is one of the most iconic television series to come out of the late 1990s. First premiering in 1997, the series had an eight-year run before its series finale in 2007. The storyline follows the life and times of New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, as he attempts to find balance between his professional and personal life, all the while having an affair with his psychologist, Jennifer Melfi.

In light of the storyline and its believability, fans and television aficionados have long speculated on whether or not the story is completely fictional or based on the real-life events of a known mob boss. Many have alleged that the character of Tony Soprano was inspired by real-life mob boss, Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo.

Vinny Ocean is the former Italian-American mob boss who, before 1999, was the de facto leader of the New Jersey DeCavalcante crime family before becoming a state witness. Moreover, he was known to have a club in New Jersey called Wiggles, in Forest Hills, Queens. The club is said to be the inspiration for the fictional strip club in the series, Bada Bing.

Due to the comparisons and given the fact that Vinny Ocean is still alive, many believe that the story of The Sopranos was inspired by the real-life events of the former mob boss and was adapted for a television format. However, other names that have been previously suggested as inspirations for the character have also included late mob bosses, Simone Rizzo DeCavalcante and Anthony “Tony Boy” Boiardo.


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