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RIP Award-Winning Actor James Gandolfini
June 19, 2013
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Gandolfini in 2007 (Photo: AP)

James Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano on 'The Sopranos', has died.

He in Rome on holiday, where he is believed to have suffered a heart attack. He was 51.

His managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders and HBO released a statement confirming the actor's death.

"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," Armstrong and Sanders said.

Gandolfini was celebrated repeatedly for his work on 'The Sopranos', winning 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 Dramatic Series three times.

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."

Gandolfini as Tony Soprano (Photo: AP)

He also had a successful career on film, playing a vicious mob henchman in 'True Romance', a Wild Thing named Carol in 'Where the Wild Things Are', and Pat in 'Not Fade Away', a film by David Chase, the creator of 'The Sopranos'.

Chase was in the red chair recently, and he spoke to George about working with Gandolfini on the show and the film:

Gandolfini was born in Westwood, New Jersey, and grew up in Park Ridge, where he started acting in high school plays.

gandolfini-deborah.jpgAfter graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in Communication Studies, he move to NYC and started acting, working as a bartender, bouncer and nightclub manager on the side.

His role in 'True Romance' was his big breakthrough. He said his inspiration for the character of Virgil was a friend of his who worked as a hitman.

In 1999, he first appeared as Tony Soprano in the HBO show that would lead him to fame and broad success.

He leaves behind his wife, former model Deborah Lin (pictured at right), and their baby girl, as well as his son from a previous marriage.


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