Paulie Walnuts remains one of the best supporting characters in The Sopranos, but how old was he at the start and the end of the series? The six-season HBO show redefined television and ushered in the golden age of television in the 2000s and early 2010s, and part of what made it so iconic was its cast of memorable characters. They aged and developed as the show went on, but for many of them, it was at times ambiguous as to exactly how old some of them were supposed to be.
The show followed the life of Tony Soprano, first a capo and then eventually boss of the New Jersey mafia in the north. At the start of the series, one of the most prominent members of his crew was Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri. Paulie was by far the oldest member of the crew, even in the first season. While characters like Silvio and Big Pussy were friends with Tony Soprano ever since they were all kids, Paulie was already an adult by then. He was a holdover from the crew of Tony’s father, Johnny Boy Soprano, and stayed on after he died and Tony took over.
While there’s no definite date given for when Paulie was born, there are a few known facts about his life prior to the start of the series. His father was a soldier in World War 2, and citing that specifically implies that Paulie may have been born sometime in the 1940s much like his actor Tony Sirico. It’s known that he joined Johnny Boy Soprano’s crew when he was 17, took part in the mob conflicts of the 1970s, and helped Tony bury his first body in the early 80s. The show progressed mostly in real-time, so when it began in 1999 Paulie was likely in his mid to late 50s.
By the time the series finished in 2007 Paulie wasn’t just the only original Sopranos crew member still standing, he also was nearing his 70s. The fact that he was that old and still a formidable and terrifying force within the mafia is impressive. With the upcoming prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, audiences are set to witness the early days of Tony Soprano in the 60s and 70s. This will also include seeing Paulie Walnuts in his prime. The film could also provide more concrete details about his age and past.
The writing and performances of The Sopranos helped to create countless memorable characters over its six-season run, and even so Paulie Walnuts remains one of the most memorable and iconic. Despite his advanced age he still was equal parts hilarious and psychopathic, and to this day is a fan favorite.