Fans mourn Gandolfini: ‘It’s not James, it’s Tony’

Updated 10:20 AM EDT, Sat June 22, 2013
(CNN) —  

To so many of his fans and friends, he wasn’t James Gandolfini, he was simply “Jimmy.” In many cases he was his character on “The Sopranos,” “Tony.”

Gandolfini charmed so many of those he met and spent time with before his death on Wednesday at the age of 51.

Maryann Morris of Bergenfield, New Jersey, remembers a time just before he became famous on the award-winning HBO series, when he was just “that guy” (as fellow iReporter Shana O’Neil put it).

“James would come visit his dad who worked at our high school. He would talk to us kids about pretty much everything. He was so personable. We had bonded over having the same birthday when I met him.”

His performances on television and film may have impressed just about anyone who watched, but it was his unassuming nature that stood out to those who met him. Check out the gallery above for more stories and memories. And if you’d like to share your memories, post them to iReport.