Close friends and relatives of the late James Gandolfini gathered to mourn and remember the beloved actor, best known for his on-screen role as Tony Soprano, at a private wake on Wednesday. The invitation-only service was held in a small town in New Jersey, close to where James grew up.
His widow, former model Deborah Lin, and ex-wife Marcy Wudarski were among the mourners who attended the emotional wake.
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The first hour was dedicated to The Sopranos star's immediate family, including his son Michael, 13, from his previous marriage, and James and Deborah's eight-month-old baby daughter Liliana. His sister Leta Gandolfini also attended.
Security was tight and men in black suits escorted mourners to the wake under black umbrellas to shield them from the public eye. A black van was also stationed in part of the main driveway to block the public's view. Friends and family arrived at the Robert Spearing Funeral Home bearing flowers and comforted each other as they bid farewell to the iconic actor. The mood inside the funeral home was said to be subdued.
Later that evening, the usually bright lights of the theatres on Broadway were dimmed in memory of James, who earned a Tony Award nomination in 2009 for his role in God of Carnage. The funeral will be held on Thursday morning at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City, where members of the public and long-time fans will be able to celebrate his life and legacy. The funeral and footage will be filmed by HBO and handed to James' family as a private gift from the network, but will not be aired.
James, 51, died unexpectedly on 19 June after suffering a heart attack. He was on holiday in Rome with Deborah and his son Michael, who reportedly found his father collapsed in the bathroom of his hotel suite. The family had been due to visit Sicily where the actor was scheduled to appear at the Taormina Film Festival. Tributes were paid to James last Saturday at the festival.