As word spread that Sopranos star James Gandolfini had died Wednesday in Rome, fans took to the North Caldwell cul-de-sac that the HBO mob boss called home.
Gandolfini's character Tony Soprano and family lived in a stately brick home on Aspen Drive, which became a focal point for fans' grief.
"I loved 'The Sopranos' ever since I was a young kid," said Wayne resident Jeff Gandolfo, who was one of the first to visit the house. "My dad has always watched it."
Gandolfini, a Bergen County native who attended Rutgers, was in Italy for the Taormina Film Festival where he was expected to appear as a guest for the closing gala on Saturday. He died after suffering a heart attack in Rome.
The home became an instant tourist attraction during and after the show's six seasons.
North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer, who met Gandolfini while working security on set, said the actor would often join police officers for lunch.
"He was down to earth, one of the guys, always pleasant,” Deuer said. “He was a good guy. “
Deuer still keeps a photo of them together on his desk.
People took pictures Wednesday night in front of the North Caldwell house and left candles at the foot of the driveway.
Meg, who declined to give her last name, was the second person to place a lit candle near the home's driveway. The Verona resident said her son, a 25-year-old television production student in Colorado, asked her to go to the house and light a candle.
"It's important to him. He's in film and I think Gandolfini was a real model, a real hero," she said. "[My son] saw the risk taking that Gandolfini did with his productions and saw it as a role model."
Frank, who declined to give his last name, said he lives near the Aspen Drive home and can remember crews filming at the residence.
"We moved in and I can remember at least 200 cars in this area" when the show was filming, he said. "It was packed by people everywhere."
He recalled onlookers creeping through backyards to sneak a peak while crews were filming.
Frank, a restaurant owner, said he still takes customers and friends to the famous house.
"People go there from all over the world," he said. "I've had friends say, 'Hey Frank, do you know where 'The Sopranos' house is? We're coming in, we want to see it!'"
— Teresa Akersten and Jim Leggate contributed to this article.