Jennifer Danny | An Homage to the Late Paul Sorvino

Jennifer Danny

Many years ago, I wrote an article titled: “I Wish My Father Was Paul Sorvino.” I had watched his daughter Mira Sorvino win the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Mighty Aphrodite.” While she was giving her acceptance speech and paying tribute to her father, the camera flashed to her father and the world got to see Paul Sorvino moved to tears. 

It was during that poignant moment that I wished he was my father. The love in his eyes, his hand holding his heart, was more than I could watch. 

I had never seen a man do that, and I could not imagine my dad showing his emotions in that manner. While I was absorbed in the moment, the phone rang. 

My sister was on the other end of the line. 

She kept saying, “Did you see that? Did you see how much he loves his daughter?” 

I couldn’t talk, it was too hard. I tried to be strong, and I just said, “Yep.” Then I said, with my voice cracking, “Imagine what it would be like to be adored that much?”  

This is not a woe-is-me article. It’s just an admiration for a no-holds-barred show of emotion. This was not the norm in my family while growing up. It doesn’t mean I was unloved — on the contrary — but it means I wasn’t loved in such an open way like that. 

So, I went back in the archives of my mind and tried to find my “Paul Sorvino” moments from my dad. Drum roll please: 

Moment No. 1 

Growing up I was not very athletic. When I was 10 years old, I decided to test my tree-climbing skills. Now I was a kid from New York City suddenly planted on half of an acre in the San Fernando Valley, complete with walnut trees and fruit trees and a half-court basketball court. You get the idea. 

I started climbing the tree with my friends and when I got about 5 feet, I turned around to sit on the branch, and part of the darn branch got jammed inside my leg. I screamed and my dad came running out and carried me to the car, because he said I needed sutures. I cried, “OK at least it’s not stitches.” 

He said, “Jen sutures are stitches.” 

I said, “Will it hurt?” 

And he said, “Don’t worry.” Which incidentally was my cue to worry. 

So, we arrived at the hospital and my dad held my hand while Attila the Hun, disguised as a doctor, shot Novocaine into the wound. I screamed, “Oh God!” 

And my dad said, “God can’t help you now, you should have asked him before you climbed the tree.” 

Not exactly something Paul Sorvino would have said, but I’ll give my dad two points for trying to bring humor to an unpleasant situation. 

Moment No. 2 

I watched “The Brady Bunch” while growing up and one day my sister and brother and I decided to pretend we were The Bradys. We were missing a few kids but decided to give it a go anyway. Mom was Carol, dad was Mike (oh and our parents didn’t know they were involved in our game). 

It was dinner time and my dad had just gotten home from a long day at work. I could tell he wasn’t in the Mike Brady frame of mind, but that didn’t stop my siblings or me from playing. Our dog, Lovey, played the part of the Bradys’ dog, but our dog wasn’t a house dog, so her immediate response was to pee all over the kitchen, then dad turned around and tripped over her and said in a very loud voice, “Get that #%^&*& dog out of the house!” 

I said, “But dad we’re playing Brady Bunch.”  

The look he gave me, not a Paul Sorvino moment, so subtract one point. 

Moment No. 3 

When I graduated sixth grade, my dad took me to buy a 10-speed bicycle as a gift. Little did I know this would release my parents from ever driving me to school again. In those days it was cool for a girl to have a boy’s bike. I tried to explain that logic to my dad and he said, “Well, it’s your bike, pick what you want.”  

I picked a beautiful Schwinn, yellow in color with a black seat. I got on to test the bike and realized my legs were short and barely could touch the ground when I was on it. I said, “My legs are too short for this bike,” and I started to tear up. 

Dad said, “Jen, your legs are fine, they reach the ground, don’t they?” Realizing how silly I sounded, I started to laugh, and I got the bike, short legs and all. 

OK this could pass as a pseudo-Paul Sorvino moment, so I give it three points. 

Moments No. 4 through 10 

Truth be told, my father and I are very close. Throughout the years as my children, his grandchildren, were growing up, he was and still is a huge part of their lives; and he’s a great-grandfather to my beautiful granddaughter. Often he would call me, and we’d talk, and he’d tell me what a wonderful job I’m doing as a mother, he’d leave me oodles of voicemails complimenting me, and say, “I love you very much!” And just when I’d hear a slight crack in his voice, he’d say, “10-4, over and out.” 

He champions me and thinks I can do anything. I think if I were ever to win an award and, as I went up on the stage and thanked everyone, I’m willing to bet that as I thanked my father for his ongoing love and support, I would see a tear in his eye and a huge smile.  

I would get my Paul Sorvino moment. And for that I would give it a resounding 10 out of 10 points.  

Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.

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