Shock and sadness greeted news of the death of Emmy Award winning actor, James Gandolfini, who has died in Rome at the age of 51.
Gandolfini, best known for his role as conflicted mobster Tony Soprano in the HBO series ‘The Sopranos’, was in Italy to attend the closing ceremony of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.
He fell ill while in his hotel room. The exact cause of his death is unknown, but it is thought to have been a heart attack.
Michael Kobold, a friend of the Gandolfini family, said: “The hotel notified the emergency services and they responded and first aid was administered. He was then taken to hospital, where he died of an apparent heart attack. He was found by his family.”
As news of his death filtered thorough fans of ‘The Sopranos’ flocked to the New York diner that featured in the final scene of the 86 episode series to pay tribute.
Chris Carley, the owner of the New Jersey based Holsten’s Confectionery, spoke kindly of the celluloid gangster and his crew: “The whole crew and cast were very friendly and outgoing. They were really nice to us. They did pictures and signed autographs and Tony was a real down-to-earth-man when the camera wasn’t rolling.”
One man, a local from New Jersey like Gandolfini, said he felt drawn to the diner: “I was completely shocked. I grew up in the area so I have a lot of sentimental feeling for the place. I was a huge fan of the show and I just had the urge to come out here and take in the moment:”
A autopsy to discover the cause of the actor’s death will be carried out on Friday.