James Gandolfini Dies in Italy at Age 51 (UPDATES)
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James Gandolfini Dies in Italy at Age 51 (UPDATES)

Tragic news for fans of The Sopranos, and for television in general. James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano in the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos, has died in Italy of a possible heart attack. He was 51 years old.

The statements just keep rolling in as news spreads of the beloved actor's death.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie was sad to hear the news: “It’s an awful shock. James Gandolfini was a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy,” he said in an official statement. “I was a huge fan of his and the character he played so authentically, Tony Soprano. I have gotten to know Jimmy and many of the other actors in the Sopranos cast and I can say that each of them are an individual New Jersey treasure. Mary Pat and I express our deepest sympathies to Mr. Gandolfini’s wife and children, and our prayers are with them at this terrible time.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker also had something to say. He tweeted, "My condolences to the family and all those who loved James Gandolfini - a true NJ Great and NJ Original. RIP."

(via Politico)

Update: The Sopranos creator David Chase's statement is one of the most heart-wrenching ones so far (via E!): “He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.” There would be silence at the other end of the phone. For [his wife] Deborah and [children] Michael and Liliana this is crushing. And it’s bad for the rest of the world. He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore, is worried about James's family, including his son who was just born last year. "Fifty-one and leaves a kid — he was newly married. His son is fatherless now ... It's way too young," he said. (via The AP)

James Gandolfini's managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders have released a statement, as well (via Buzzfeed): "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy. Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years, and we are all grieving."

HBO has released a statement on James's death (via WSJ): “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was 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. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano in the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos, has died in Italy of a possible heart attack, according to Deadline. He was 51 years old.

Variety has received confirmation from HBO that the actor was on vacation in Italy at the time. Initially reported as a possible stroke, the cause of death was updated to a possible heart attack. CNN reports that he'd been attending a friend's wedding in Rome on his vacation.

In addition to his career-making role on The Sopranos, James had prominent roles in True Romance, Get Shorty, The Man Who Wasn't There, and many others. Most recently, he starred in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone as Doug Munny alongside Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, and Olivia Wilde.

We love this quote from 2007 that the Washington Post's David Beard directed us to: "He's so humble a cat. I think it probably came from being a character actor all those years, and being very surprised — openly surprised — to be cast a lead," said Steve Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante on the series "If he's not acting like a diva, nobody better act like a diva."

More on this news as it develops.

Our hearts go out to his family.

06.19.2013 / 12:00 AM EDT by Sarah Anne Lloyd
Related: News, Celebrity Deaths, TV Stars, James Gandolfini

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