OF THE BABY NAME TONY
Tony is one of the two star-crossed lovers in the Broadway musical adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet tragedy – West Side Story, which was also made into a major motion picture of the same name in 1961, with Richard Beymer playing Tony. Tony is a former leader of the Jets, a gang of second-generation American teens, while Maria’s brother is the leader of the rival Sharks, made up of Puerto Rican immigrants. Against this backdrop of racial tension and suspicion, the young lovers try to transcend their pre-ordained fate. Tony has left the gang and taken a legitimate job, trying to rise above the tenement neighborhood. Having met and fallen in love with Maria, he looks to a bright future. He is reluctantly drawn back into the gang warfare, although he tries to make it as fair a fight as possible. Violence reigns, however, and the young lovers are separated by Tony’s death by stabbing. He leaves behind a grief-stricken Maria, but also, a shred of hope that the futility of bloodshed has been realized, and peace will prevail.
Tony is the protagonist of 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever, starring a young John Travolta in his signature role. Young Tony is of working class Brooklyn origins, with a minimal education, stuck in a dead-end clerking job. But ah, on Saturday nights – he is King of all he surveys at the local discotheque. Dancing to the tunes of the unforgettable Bee Gees’ soundtrack, decked out in his seventies’ white suits and paisleys, Tony rules. On the dance floor, he is beautiful, graceful, limit-less – women love him, men envy him. He can step beyond the confines of his restrictive environment into a wonderland of light and lyrics. There are some ugly twists to the plot, but at the movie’s end we sense Tony’s coming of age and his first tentative steps toward a maturity that fully recognizes all aspects of his life and seeks to deal with them in an honorable way.
Tony Soprano is the main character in the hugely popular HBO television drama series, The Sopranos, who was played by James Gandolfini. He is an Italian-American crime boss in New Jersey, caught between balancing his mobster duties with those toward his family, and suffering in resultant depression, guilt and panic attacks. In seeking psychiatric treatment for these symptoms, Tony explores his past and present, giving us a window into his heart and soul. He is a very complex man, at once a tender and loving husband and father, while also managing to entertain a number of mistresses on the side. He is proud of his children, overprotective of his daughter, and hopeful that his son will not follow in his footsteps, as he did in his own father’s. He loves animals, sports, music, history and movies. Oh, and he does a lot of killing. Nobody’s perfect. Somehow, Tony manages to grab and hold our sympathy, even as we witness the fallout from his chosen life. Is it that way with all godfathers?
Tony is the alter-ego of little Danny Torrance in Stephen King’s 1977 horror novel, The Shining, which was made into a successful 1980 film (with an adorable Danny Lloyd as the child). Danny’s baffled parents see Tony as an “imaginary friend”, but he takes over the inner Danny in weird and frightening ways, sending the child into hypnotic trances and communicating to him in unsettling ways. Danny himself describes him thusly: “Tony is a little boy who lives in my mouth.” Yikes. Nonetheless, when things get creepier and creepier at the Overlook Hotel, it is Tony’s warnings that alert Danny to the danger he is in and the mortal threat that his own father presents to him. So in spite of his eerie origins and his gravelly voice, Tony really represents the part of the child that is aware of the vagaries of the adult world, and is on guard against them. At least, that’s what we’d like to think!