Actor James Gandolfini died suddenly after a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Rome to attend the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He was 51. Gandolfini will be forever known for his portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on the seminal HBO series The Sopranos, which eventually won him 3 Emmy Awards and a $1,000,000-an-episode paycheck. Overweight, balding, rough around the edges with a thick New Jersey accent, Gandolfini was the opposite of a marquee leading man, destined to be a character actor. Yet he proved through his masterful acting that he could make Tony Soprano sexy and smart, towering and powerful.
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The body of actor James Gandolfini was transferred to a hospital morgue in Rome early Thursday, where it awaits an autopsy. By law, medical examiners in Italy are required to carry out the postmortem 24 hours after the body’s arrival in the morgue, a hospital spokesman said. Before Italian authorities can release his remains for transport back to the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Rome must issue a death certificate.
Gandolfini was not alive when he arrived by ambulance at the Policlinico hospital late Wednesday, spokesman Antonio Spasola said. No one from the embassy or Gandolfini’s family has contacted the morgue yet, he said. Though the cause of death is not yet known, his managers believe that a heart attack killed the man who portrayed Tony Soprano, a washed-up mob boss prone to keeling over from panic attacks.
He was 51.