- "Teddy Roosevelt once gave an entire speech with a bullet lodged in his chest. Some things are just a matter of duty."
- ―Junior Soprano[src]
Corrado John "Junior" Soprano, Jr. also known as "Uncle Junior", played by Dominic Chianese, is a capo in the DiMeo crime family and Tony Soprano's uncle. Junior is the son of Corrado, Sr. and Mariangela D'Agostino Soprano, Italian immigrants who came over from the town of Avellino, Italy in 1911. Junior had two younger brothers: Giovanni John Francis (AKA "Johnny Boy"), who was Tony's father, and Ercoli (AKA Eckley), who was mentally disabled and spent most of his life in an institution. Corrado Soprano Sr. was a stonemason, but Junior and Johnny had no intention of following in their footsteps. Junior and Johnny dropped out of high school to join the DiMeo crime family; together, they were responsible for acquiring longtime Soprano asset Satriale's Meat Market from the eponymous Francis Satriale. Satriale had a gambling problem and eventually committed suicide, leaving the place in the Soprano brothers' hands because of his debts. Junior was also detained by the police, along with his brother and several other mobsters, at the Ride Land amusement park. Junior harbored some resentment towards his brother, who was "made" before he was, despite being the younger of the two. Junior always watched after Tony, but after Johnny's death from emphysema, Junior became Tony's surrogate father. Junior acted as Tony's leader and mentor, helping him rise through the ranks. However Junior also had some resentment for Tony's fast ascendancy as a star of the family that he had spent his whole life working in.
Following the arrest of Ercole DiMeo, founder and boss of the DiMeo crime family in late 1995, Junior got into a trucking dispute with new acting boss Jackie Aprile, Sr. He fled to Boca Raton to avoid any repercussions but Tony arranged a sit-down through Soprano crew soldier Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero to solve the problem.
In the opening episode, Junior planned to kill "Little Pussy" Malanga (not to be confused with "Big Pussy") in Vesuvio, a restaurant owned by Tony's friend, Artie Bucco. Tony tried to prevent this, eventually resorting to fire-bombing the restaurant to force its closure so the hit would happen elsewhere. Junior Soprano's crew often used the Sit Tite Luncheonette as a hangout, but other places they used (particularly among members of Junior's inner circle) included Harold Melvoin's office and Douglas Schreck's office (when Junior was under house arrest).
Since the family's founder Ercole DiMeo was imprisoned for life, and both Johnny Boy Soprano and Jackie Aprile had died, Junior eventually took over as head of the New Jersey organization. But he was perceived as high-handed and selfish—in mob parlance, "he ate alone," causing serious dissension in the ranks. Junior was very envious of others who held an advantage or position of superiority over him (especially with regards to his own family) and had an uneasy relationship with his nephew Tony, for their often-conflicting business interests which led to Junior and Tony squabbling over control of the family.
Brendan Filone, an associate in Tony's crew, was killed by Junior's right-hand man Mikey Palmice over a failed truck hijacking that claimed the life of Hector Anthony, a driver employed by Comley Trucking. Before the situation could be elevated to a war, Tony agreed to let Junior become boss. Although Junior technically became the boss, Tony had more control of the family and was using Junior as a front to distract law enforcement with the agreement of the other captains (all of which was unknown by Junior).
Junior Soprano gained the distrust of the others when Mikey Palmice busted up a card game under DiMeo capo Jimmy Altieri's protection, as his first act as boss. Furthermore, Tony had to deal with the other family captains when Junior attempted to tax Herman "Hesh" Rabkin and demanded a piece of his shylocking business. Junior received $250,000 as a result, although the others believed that Junior was abusing his position. Perhaps the final straw came when one of Larry Barese's top earners, Rusty Irish, was killed by Mikey Palmice and Joseph "Eggie" Marino, another member of Junior's crew.
Tony and Junior argued again when Tony made reference to Junior's sexual relationship with a longtime friend, prompting Junior to end the association. Tony also upset Junior by placing his mother, Livia Soprano, into the Green Grove retirement community. Resentful, Livia tried to take advantage of both of their grudges and gave Junior the go ahead to kill Tony. She prompted the action by revealing Tony's visits to Dr. Melfi, a therapist. However, the hit failed and' Tony used the situation to cut Junior out of the loop in the family almost completely by arranging for Junior's top trigger men, Mikey Palmice and Chucky Signore to be assassinated. Junior was arrested on federal racketeering charges at the same time.
This cut Junior's ability to pull another attack and sent his former crew into turmoil. Junior's underboss, Beppy Sasso, was arrested at the same time as Junior. Junior's replacement capo, Philly "Spoons" Parisi, couldn't keep his mouth shut about the conflict between Tony and his Uncle and also Livia's involvement, so Tony had him killed. Finally, Tony moved two soldiers from Junior's crew, Patsy Parisi and Gigi Cestone, over to his crew. This left Junior the aging Murf Lupo as capo and Beppy Scerbo and Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri as soldiers. Through Bobby, Tony informed Junior that while he could keep the title of Boss, almost all of his businesses were forfeited, and Tony would only let him keep a 5% tribute, which would be (barely) enough to live on.
Soon, Junior was released from jail and placed under house arrest while awaiting trial, after his attorney convinced the judge that Junior was much sicker than he actually was. This mimicks the real life tactics of Genovese crime family mob boss Vincent Gigante who feigned mental illness to avoid federal prosecution. While he was under house arrest, Soprano captain Richie Aprile was released from prison, and actively sought Junior's friendship. Soon, Junior found himself at the epicenter of a growing power struggle between Richie and Tony, with Richie wishing to assume Tony's position as "street boss." Junior was extremely conflicted over which side to favor, but eventually decided that while Tony could be selfish and impulsive, Richie simply did not have the respect of the family members, and his violent and brutish tendencies could mean the end of the family itself. Junior finally told Tony of Richie's plans against him. Grateful for the warning, Tony increased by half (5% to 7.5%) Junior's percentage of his former businesses, and the two (more or less) buried the hatchet.
During this time, Bobby Baccalieri became Junior's replacement right-hand man and closest confidant. Bobby accompanied Junior on hospital visits during his battles with stomach cancer, which he eventually overcame. Junior tried to warn Bobby not to get involved with his niece, Janice, after the death of Bobby's wife, but Janice persisted and Bobby and Janice eventually got married.
Junior found various ways to get around his house arrest—using his doctor's office to conduct business (until the feds placed an agent there posing as a nurse) and attending as many funerals and family functions as possible.
Season 4 and 5
Although Tony considered him to be arrogant and incompetent as a boss, he has often turned to Junior as the voice of experience. Although Junior has survived cancer and prison, the toll of a series of 'mini-strokes' and the confinement of house arrest has since left him confused, depressed, and increasingly dependent on family care and support.
In season six of The Sopranos, Junior's dementia has worsened over the two year interval, as he becomes paranoid that his long-deceased enemy, "Little Pussy" Malanga, is after him. Tony, however, refuses to put his uncle in a nursing home, feeling obligated to care for Junior himself with the aid of his sisters and Bobby. The decision proves nearly fatal. Tony arrives at Junior's house one evening and finds that his uncle is missing his false teeth. Tony sends Junior upstairs to look for the missing teeth while Tony prepares dinner for his uncle. When Junior hears Tony's voice from downstairs telling him that dinner is ready, his dementia kicks in once again. Junior descends the stairs and, believing his nephew to be Malanga, shoots Tony in the abdomen. Panicking, Junior runs upstairs, hiding away in his bedroom closet while Tony struggles to dial 911 before losing consciousness. Following this, the captains in the DiMeo family decided to cut all ties to him, making Tony the official boss.
Junior was arrested and taken into federal custody over the shooting, but his lawyer secured him a release into a mental institution, claiming he is currently unfit to stand trial. Tony is apparently unaware of this, having refused all contact with, or even mention of, his uncle since the shooting. Junior remains confused and distressed by proceedings and denies that he could have deliberately attacked his own nephew. Junior's dementia has progressed to such a state that when his grand-nephew A.J. Soprano visited him with the intention of killing him as revenge, Junior did not recognize the danger he was in. A.J. was caught with a knife and arrested before Tony was able to pull strings and get him released, later saying he was glad A.J. didn't have it in him to have murdered Junior.
In the Wyckoff Psychiatric Center, Junior began to put portions of his old life back together. He still collects weekly payments from his organizations and is occasionally visited by Pat Blundetto and Beppi Scerbo, where he delusively tells them that he expects an apology from Tony over his commitment (the two men nervously say they'll relay the message to Tony). Within the walls of the home, Junior behaves like a typical Mafia chieftain; bribing orderlies, organizing card games and physically abusing rivals. A young Chinese-American looks up to Junior as a mentor and father figure. However, after Junior loses control of his bladder, the center's administrators conclude that he is ditching his medications. Junior is confronted with the choice of either taking the medication that will make him docile or being moved to (probably) a less pleasant facility. Junior agrees to take the medication. The result is numbing as he first loses his aggressiveness and personality. As the side effects worsen, Junior eventually turns into a parrot. He is badly beaten by his would-be protegé who is angered to lose Junior as a mentor. In the final scene of "Remember When" Junior stews, bandaged, black and blue and with broken glasses from his beating, sitting motionless in a lawn chair, petting a cat in his lap.
In the episode The Blue Comet, Janice approached Tony while he is draining his pool. She tells him that Junior has run out of money, and will be removed from the Wyckoff Psychiatric Center unless someone helps him out, with her strongly implying that Tony should step in because she and Bobby don't have the money to help significantly. Tony shows no sympathy for Junior, and sarcastically offers Janice a five dollar bill. Janice walks away without accepting the derisive offer, as Tony goes back to cleaning the pool.
In the final episode, "Made in America", Janice visits Junior at a state facility, his home since being removed from the Wyckoff facility. He calls her Livia, her mother's name. He also thinks Janice's daughter is actually Janice. She tries to tell him that his former driver and friend Bobby, is dead, but he doesn't comprehend, thinking she means Robert "Bobby" Kennedy. Tony later visits a now sick and feeble Junior for the first time since the shooting. Junior recognizes him as someone he used to play catch with, remembering playing with Tony as a child. Tony tries to remind Junior of who he was, and even who his brother was, but sadly Junior cannot remember. Tony tells him that he and his father used to run all of north Jersey, "this thing of ours" (meaning Cosa Nostra), to which Junior simply smiles and replies, "Well, that's nice." A frustrated and visually saddened Tony finally knows Junior is in an advanced stage of dementia and that no revenge he could take on Junior for the shooting would top his uncle's rapid descent towards total disability and death. Tony simply looks, while holding back tears, at Junior then leaves his wheelchair-bound uncle without saying goodbye.
Real Life Basis
The Junior Soprano character may have been loosely based on the real life presumed boss of the Gambino crime family, Peter Gotti, and DeCavalcante Crime Family "made men" Joseph Sodano and Joseph Giacobbe with similarities in look, thick & large glasses, age, inheritance of the leadership from his nephew, John A. Gotti, and his relationship with longtime girlfriend Marjorie Alexander.
Vehicle Junior owned a black 1995 Lincoln Town Car which appears during Seasons 1-5, his deputies Mikey Palmice and later Bobby Baccalieri chauffeur him around in it. It was said to have been stolen in Newark, N.J. in the season 5 episode "Where's Johnny?".
- Prior to Junior's arrest in 1999, he hadn't been arrested since 1968.
- According to Junior's lawyer, he was a veteran of the Second World War.
Appearances In Episodes And Scenes
The Sopranos (TV Series)
The Sopranos: Road to Respect (2006 Video Game)
- He is played by the actor Joel Rooks
- Mission 1 Components
- Mission 6 No Ways Off
- Mission 13 Boulevard Baby
- Mission 15 Trapped (Boss)
- Mission 16 Transporting (Boss)
- Mission 17 No Ways Off
- Mission 18 Party's Over
- Mission 19 Corrado's Revenge (Betrayal/Arrested)