James Gandolfini, the actor best known for his Emmy-winning portrayal of a conflicted New Jersey mob boss in the groundbreaking TV series “The Sopranos,” died yesterday while vacationing in Italy. He was 51.
Gandolfini, whose performance as Tony Soprano made him a household name and ushered in a new era of American television drama, had been scheduled to attend the closing of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily on Saturday.
He may have suffered a heart attack, Mara Mikialian, the spokeswoman for the HBO network that produced The Sopranos, told Reuters.
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 p.m. local time , a hospital spokesman said.
Since “The Sopranos” ended its six-season run in June 2007, Gandolfini 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.”
At the time of his death, he had been working on an upcoming HBO series “Criminal Justice” and had two motion pictures due out next year.