New Jersey's most popular mob boss, although fictional, is being remembered with tributes across North Jersey where hit series 'The Sopranos' was filmed. The series did wonders for the Garden State and may be responsible for the success New Jersey is having with movies and television today.

The most recognizable role for James Gandolfini, who passed away this week at the age of 51, was New Jersey's Italian monster Tony Soprano.

James Gandolfini (Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)

"There's no question that The Sopranos made New Jersey a really hip place to make movies and TV shows," said Steve Gorelick, Executive Director of the New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission. "Producers were clamoring to film here in the wake of that show and its success."

The series filmed in several counties across north Jersey, as well as Asbury Park and Atlantic City.

"New Jersey was one of the main characters of the show," Gorelick added.

Before 'The Sopranos,' according to Gorelick, New Jersey was used mainly as a set where crews could pretend they were somewhere else. After the show became a hit, programs and movies were written specifically for New Jersey.

During its numerous seasons on air, the show pumped millions upon millions into the state's economy - directly and indirectly. Tourists would come from out of state, and still do, to see the landmarks frequently visited on the show. The trend continues today in Seaside Heights for reality show 'Jersey Shore,' and in Hoboken where 'Cake Boss' was born.

Perhaps the success of 'The Sopranos' can be blamed largely on the fact that Mr. Gandolfini was a New Jersey native. Born in Westwood and a graduate of Rutgers University, he had an up-close view for decades of life in the Garden State.

"You can't even imagine anyone else playing that role," Gorelick said. "This is a kind of indelible character that's seared into the public consciousness like Archie Bunker."