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James Gandolfini, star of The Sopranos, dies in Italy aged 51

20 JUNE 2013

James Gandolfini, the American actor best known for his role on The Sopranos, has died at the age of 51.

It is being reported that he suffered a heart attack while on holiday in Rome. He had been scheduled to take part in the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

"It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome," his managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said on Wednesday evening.

 

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"Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply."

HBO, the network behind The Sopranos, said in a statement, "We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family.

"He was 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.

"He touched so many of us over the years with his humour, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed."

 

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James was born in 1961 in New Jersey to a school dinner lady and a bricklayer-turned-school caretaker, both of Italian background.

He graduated with a degree in communications from Rutgers University before moving to New York, where he worked as a bartender and club manager.

His acting career took off in 1992 when he landed a part in a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. A year later, he got his breakthrough role playing a mobster in the film True Romance.

In 1999, he was cast in The Sopranos. The hit show — which ran for six series, winning 21 Emmys and five Golden Globes — centered around New Jersey-based mobster Tony Soprano, and his attempts to juggle his home life with his criminal organisation.

 

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Tony was a supremely complicated and conflicted character; kind one moment, a violent sociopath the next, while also struggling with depression — and James won trophies and a huge fan base for his talented portrayal.

He went on to star in a number of films, and his more recent credits include Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, starring Brad Pitt. He was also nominated for a Tony award for his role in Broadway hit God of Carnage.

James is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, their eight-month-old baby daughter Liliana and son Michael, 13, from a previous marriage.

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