James Gandolfini dead at 51: The Sopranos actor dies in Italy following a suspected heart attack

James Gandolfini has died aged 51 after a suspected heart attack, it has been confirmed.

The Sopranos star was on vacation in Rome and was due to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

He is survived by his wife Deborah Lin and two children, Michael, 13, and nine-month-old daughter Liliana Ruth.

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Dead at 51: James Gandolfini attending a charity gala on June 10; he has died of a suspected heart attack in Italy

Dead at 51: James Gandolfini was in good spirits as he attended a charity gala on June 10; he has died of a suspected heart attack in Italy

In a statement Gandolfini's managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders confirmed the death, which happened on Wednesday.

'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,' they said.

Cable channel HBO called the actor 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.'


James Gandolfini

Devoted dad: James was said be 'thrilled' at the arrival of his daughter last year; he is pictured carrying her to lunch with his wife in May


James Gandolfini

Loving family: James and wife Deborah Lin attended the Cirque du Soleil in LA in 2011 with his son Michael and a friend

'We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,' HBO said.

'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.'

Gandolfini's wife, former model Deborah Lin, gave birth to a baby girl last October, and the couple married in Hawaii in 2008.

James Gandolfini

Breakout role: Gandolfini is best known for his role as Tony Soprano in hit HBO series The Sopranos


James Gandolfini

Married to the mob: In character with his Sopranos co-stars Edie Falco, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Following the birth of his daughter, a spokesperson for the actor said he was 'thrilled' at becoming a father again.

His rep said: 'I am happy to confirm that James and Deborah Gandolfini are the proud parents of a happy and healthy baby girl.'

James also has a son, Michael, with his ex-wife, Marcy Wudarski, who he divorced after three years of marriage in 2002.


The Sopranos

Complex character: James Gandolfini alongside actors Tony Sirico Federico Castellucio, and Steven Van Zandt in The Sopranos

There has been a huge outpouring of grief on Twitter from celebrities following the tragically sad news.

Amongst those to share their sadness were stars who had worked with Gandolfini.

'RIP James Gandolfini. A great friend,' wrote Jeff Daniels, his co-star in Broadway's God of Carnage.

'I am so deeply saddened by the untimely passing of sweet James Gandolfini!' tweeted Christina Applegate, his co-star in the 2004 comedy Surviving Christmas. 'My heart is broken for his family!! I’m in shock.' 

Steve Carell, who was about to work with the larger-than-life star in HBO Films' Bone Wars, added: 'James Gandolfini. Unbelievably sad news. A fine man.'


The Sopranos

Celebrated: James and his on-screen wife Edie Falco both won at the 2000 Golden Globes for their roles as Tony and Carmela Soprano


James Gandolfini

Award-winning: James Gandolfini with his award for Outstanding Lead Actor at the 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 2000

'He was a genius,' said The Sopranos creator David Chase.

'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.'

Chris Albrecht who gave the greenlight for crime family drama at HBO in 1999 and approved Gandolfini for the role told Deadline: 'Absolutely stunned. I got the word from Lorraine Bracco and just got off with Brad Grey who had just heard from David Chase. We had all become a family. This is a tremendous loss.'

Gandolfini rose to fame playing the hit man in the 1993 film True Romance, and roles in films such as Terminal Velocity and Get Shorty followed.

However, it wasn't until his breakout role in the hit television show The Sopranos that he  became a household name playing mob boss Tony Soprano, winning three Emmy Awards for the role.

Gandolfini won a huge fan base playing complicated character, who juggled family life with his wife and children with leading a criminal organization at the same time.

The character died in the season finale, although the audience was never shown the moment of his death.

Speaking to Vanity Fair about the ending, Gandolfini said: ‘What the f***? I mean, after all I went through, all this death, and then it’s over like that?'

Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore on the HBO drama, said he was shocked and heartbroken.

'Fifty-one and leaves a kid -- he was newly married. His son is fatherless now ... It's way too young,' Gannascoli said.

Following the success of the HBO television series - which finished in 2007 - he continued to make big screen appearances in critically acclaimed films including In The Loop and The Taking of Pelham 123.

He appeared alongside Twilight actress Kristen Stewart in the heartwarming drama Welcome to the Rileys and voiced the Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are.




Loving husband: James and his second wife Deborah Lin, pictured here at a HBO event in 2011, married in Hawaii in 2008

In his personal life, Gandolfini made his first public appearance with Deborah at the premiere of the second half of the sixth and final series of The Sopranos in March 2007.

Their wedding just a year later was an incredibly romantic affair.

They exchanged vows in front of family and friends at Honolulu's Central Union Church.


James Gandolfini

Versatile: James Gandolfini starred opposite Twilight's Kristen Stewart in the heartwarming 2010 movie Welcome To The Rileys

Deborah wore a white gown made of Italian lace, while the church was decorated with white lilies and rhododendrons. He recently played Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in the Oscar nominated film Zero Dark Thirty.

Born in Westwood, New Jersey, Gandolfini graduated from Park Ridge High School, where he cut his teeth acting in school plays, and went on to study communications at Rutgers University.

He started his professional acting career treading the boards in New York, and made his Broadway debut in the 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin.

Although his first film role came before in the 1987 comedy horror movie Shock! Shock! Shock!

Gandolfini had a number of projects completed before his death including Violet & Daisy starring Saoirse Ronan, and another project by director Nicole Holofcener starring Catherine Keener.

In an interview in December last year, Gandolfini sounded upbeat about a slew of smaller roles following the breathtaking blackout ending in 2007 of The Sopranos.

'I'm much more comfortable doing smaller things,' Gandolfini said.

'I like them. I like the way they're shot; they're shot quickly. It's all about the scripts - that's what it is - and I'm getting some interesting little scripts.'



'RIP James Gandolfini. A great friend,' wrote Jeff Daniels, his co-star in Broadway's God of Carnage.

'I am so deeply saddened by the untimely passing of sweet James Gandolfini!' tweeted Christina Applegate, his co-star in the 2004 comedy Surviving Christmas. 'My heart is broken for his family!! I’m in shock.'

Steve Carell, who was about to work with the larger-than-life star in HBO Films' Bone Wars, tweeted: 'James Gandolfini. Unbelievably sad news. A fine man.'

Patrick Wilson wrote: 'R.I.P. James Gandolfini. So awful. What a fantastic actor…so much to say but I can’t even process. My condolences to his family.'

Bush rocker Gavin Rossdale said: 'james gandolfini– so sad what an incredible actor. more loss. be good to each other. it’s all so short.'

Actor Jonah Hill: 'I'm truly heartbroken to hear that James Gandolfini has passed away. He is one of my all time favorite actors. Tragic loss.'

Carson Daly: 'SO SAD! PRAYING FOR HIS FAMILY- wow- Shocked by this news today….'

Josh Henderson: 'Just read about James Gandolfini.. Never met him but what a damn good actor. Gone way to soon. Rip brother.. #prayers'

Dominic Monaghan: 'Oh man James gandolfini died. Fantastic in the soprano, and true romance. A great talent.'

Alyssa Milano: 'Rest in peace, Mr. Gandolfini.'

Rainn Wilson: 'Arrivederci, James Gandolfini. You were one of the great greats. We’ll miss your dangerous, big heart. #RIPGandolfini'

Josh Groban: 'Thank you James Gandolfini for some of the most brilliant tv moments of all time. So sad!!!'

Giuliana Rancic: 'Just heard James Gandolfini has died of a heart attack at the age of 51. So incredibly sad.'

Leah Remini: 'R.I.P James Gandolfini. My prayers to his family and friends. He will certainly be missed by us who loved watching him'

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