Three-times Emmy award winning actor James Gandolfini has died of a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Rome. He was 51.
Gandolfini was best known for his portrayal of the conflicted New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano, juggling his criminal career and family life in the acclaimed HBO produced television series ‘The Sopranos’.
He was taken from his Rome hotel to the city’s Umberto I general hospital where staff found his heart had already stopped at about 11 pm local time, a hospital spokesman said.
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement. “He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly, a gentle and loving person who treated everyone, no matter their title or position, with equal respect.”
Actress Marcia Gay Harden, his co-star in ‘God of Carnage’, saluted Gandolfini as a “great partner, masterful actor and a loving, generous human being”. Susan Sarandon, who played his wife in the 2005 romantic comedy ‘Romance and Cigarettes’, remembered him in a Twitter posting as “One of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I’ve ever worked with”.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hailed Gandolfini as “a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy.”
Gandolfini garnered enormous praise for the Sopranos role. He won both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series three times.
Since ‘The Sopranos’ ended in 2007, Gandolfini has appeared in a number of big-screen roles, including ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the crime drama ‘Killing Them Softly’.
Gandolfini’s other roles included the woman-beating mob henchman Virgil in ‘True Romance’, enforcer/stuntman Bear in ‘Get Shorty’, and the impulsive Wild Thing Carol in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.
Apart from acting, Gandolfini produced the 2007 documentary ‘Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq’, in which he interviewed 10 injured Iraq War veterans.
His second documentary, entitled ‘Wartorn: 1861-2010’ and released in 2010, analyses post-traumatic stress disorder and its impact on soldiers and families through several wars in American history, from 1861 to 2010.