In The Sopranos episode Strong, Silent Type (Wikipedia, IMDB) the character Tony Soprano says:

Let me tell you something. Nowadays everybody’s got to go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on Sally Jessy Raphael and talk about their problems.

Whatever happened to Gary Cooper?

The strong, silent type; that was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings, he just did what he had to do.

So what they didn’t know, once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings, that they wouldn’t be able to shut him up! And then it’s ‘dysfunction this, dusfunction that, dysfunction vaffanculo!’

Question: Does Soprano refer to an actual situation involving the real life actor Gary Cooper? Or to characters that the actor played later in life? Or does "...once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings..." refer to something more existential?

Quote transcribed from the first thirty seconds of

or if/when that link breaks:

2 Answers 2


It doesn't refer to a specific incident involving Gary Cooper; he's using "Gary Cooper" as an archetype, "the strong, silent type".

What he's saying is basically: "once they got people to get in touch with their feelings, it opened up the floodgates and it never stopped". In his mind, Americans stopped being Gary Cooper and instead became self-obsessed whiners.

  • Okay this makes sense to me; we don't see Tony Soprano spending his afternoons reading autobiographies. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Feb 19, 2019 at 12:41

It's worth mentioning that Tony probably build his image of masculinity and Gary Copper after watching some of his silent films of western genre during his early acting days. Cooper played cowboys roles (since he was a naturally good rider), that are considered as a masculinity archetype.

That's why Tony probably thinks of Cooper to be the "strong and silent type".

  • 1
    I see, yes that would be very believable and in-character for Soprano; remembering Cooper as strong as silent because he saw Cooper literally silent in silent films.
    – uhoh
    Apr 16, 2019 at 14:14
  • 1
    Yes, and Tony is sometimes seen watching old western movies with male figures like Charles Brownson, John Wayne, Dean Martin and Gary Cooper. Apr 18, 2019 at 8:20

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