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James Gandolfini

DIES IN ITALY

6/19/2013 6:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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James Gandolfini -- who famously played Tony Soprano on "The Sopranos" -- died earlier today in Italy ... TMZ has learned.

Gandolfini is believed to have suffered a heart attack. He was 51.

Gandolfini was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily -- and he was scheduled to participate in a festival event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.

Gandolfini shot to fame playing a hitman in the 1993 hit "True Romance" ... and quickly became a Hollywood legend when he was cast as Tony Soprano in 1999.  He won 3 Emmy awards for the role during the show's 6 season run.

'Sopranos' creator David Chase tells TMZ ... "[James] was a genius. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time.  A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.  I remember telling him many times, 'You don't get it.  You're like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone."

Chase added, "He was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain.”

Gandolfini also appeared in a ton of huge movies including "Get Shorty," "The Mexican" and "Zero Dark Thirty."

We last spoke to Gandolfini in May in L.A. -- he was in great spirits, making funny faces and joking about a "Sopranos" movie.

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His 'Sopranos' co-star Joseph R. Gannascoli -- who played Vito -- tells us, "James is one guy who never turned his back on me. He was the most humble and gifted actor and person I have ever worked with ... and I will forever be indebted to him."

Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, who gave birth to the couple's daughter in October 2012. He also has a teenage son from a previous marriage. R.I.P.

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543 COMMENTS

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16.

DollyDagger    

Well, this is bummer news. RIP

407 days ago
17.

Evelyn    

OMG NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

407 days ago
18.

Blink twice     

Who's this James guy? Seriously

407 days ago
19.

palermo    

Oh no, sorry to hear this. Rest in peace.

407 days ago
20.

manbearpig    

he was very, very fat.

407 days ago
21.

Jim in Cali    

Man. This sucks to hear. R.I.P. James

407 days ago
22.

MDagg77    

His people told a different website it is a hoax and that he's alive

407 days ago
23.

mommyto1    

Can't lie. I am hoping this another hoax but I doubt it is. This sucks!

407 days ago
24.

Jane    

Other websites are saying this is a hoax. Which is it TMZ????? I hope its not true!!

407 days ago
25.

moloch13    

Did he get whacked?

407 days ago
26.

my 2 cents    

So sad to hear. May he rest in peace

407 days ago
27.

Kbr06    

Badabing sad!

407 days ago
28.

nikki    

Fake.... http://en.mediamass.net/people/james-gandolfini/deathhoax.html

407 days ago
29.

Ted Frunk    

That was very unexpected.

407 days ago
30.

Steve    

Fat spaghetti slurping slob. RIP. Sad to hear.

407 days ago
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