Star of the HBO series “The Sopranos,” James Gandolfini, died of a massive heart attack while vacationing in Rome, Italy Wednesday. He was 51-years-old.
The exact cause of death is not known, but his managers said it was possibly a heart attack.
His body is in a hospital morgue in Rome. Once the U.S. Embassy issues a death certificate, Gandolfini’s remains can be returned to the United States.
“It is with immense sorrow that we report our client, James Gandolfini, passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy,” managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said in a joint statement. “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.”
The actor had been scheduled to make an appearance at the Taormina Film Fest in Sicily this week.
Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, the angst-wracked mob boss who visited a therapist and took Prozac while knocking off people. “The Sopranos” aired from 1999 to 2007.
Gandolfini and his family had spent “a beautiful day out together,” the actor’s assistant, Tom Richardson, told friend Mike Sullivan on Wednesday.
“When they got back to the hotel, Jimmy went to use the restroom. And something happened in there. … His sister said he was alive when they took him out in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” Richardson said, according to Sullivan, a close pal of “Sopranos” actor Tony Sirico.
The news floored Gandolfini’s friends, fellow actors and “Sopranos” co-stars, including Steve Schirripa, who was in a box suite at Yankee Stadium when word reached him by phone. The color drained from Schirripa’s face and uncertainty reigned for a half-hour as he and other “Sopranos” cast members, like Lorraine Bracco and Steve Van Zandt called each other, desperate for details.
“I had to get up and leave,” said Schirripa, who played Tony’s brother-in-law, Bobby Baccalieri. “It was like being told a brother had died. Jimmy Gandolfini was as great a friend as he was an actor and a human being.”
“The phone hasn’t stopped. I spoke to a lot of the guys from ‘The Sopranos.’ We were crying,” Schirripa added. “People joke about us being a family. But we are a family.”
This is truly sad news. He was a tough guy favorite amongst many mobster fans and his portrayal of Tony Soprano will never be forgotten. RIP Gandolofini, you will be greatly missed.