“I gave my life to my children on a silver platter.”
Cagey, manipulative and possessing an encyclopedic memory of every slight she ever suffered, Livia Pollio Soprano was probably the most important person in Tony’s life. She was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to Faustino (AKA Augie) and Teresa Pollio, Italian immigrants from Avellino. Livia’s childhood was poverty-stricken and miserable, and she spent her adult life punishing everyone for it.
Marriage to the tough, charismatic Johnny Boy Soprano was Livia’s ticket out of her parents’ house. But married life, however, was not happy ever after. Livia wasn’t particularly interested in housework and as for motherhood, her take on it was that babies were “animals…no different from dogs.” Although Johnny Boy was a good provider, in Livia’s estimation he was never good enough. She constantly pressured him to earn more, but when he came to her with a plan to move the family to Reno in order to pursue a new business opportunity – something he wanted very much – she quickly put the kibosh on it. Although Livia belittled Johnny Boy practically every day of his life, when he died she instantly canonized him.
Old age didn’t mellow Livia – if anything, it made her more suspicious and abusive of everyone around her. She was convinced that her children were out to kill her and take her money – all the while insisting she was an impoverished, defenseless old widow. When Tony put her in a nursing home because he legitimately believed she couldn’t live on her own, she retaliated by convincing Junior to put a hit on him. The hit, of course, failed, but Livia, as always came out unscathed. Nobody ever got the upper hand on Livia Soprano: a year later she died, peacefully, in her sleep.