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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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31.

Woot    

Omg, how sad! RIP, man. :o(

390 days ago
32.

Catrina     

I hope this is not true...

390 days ago
33.

BellaBoo    

That is just terrible. My condolences to his family. How sad.

390 days ago
34.

Dildo Baggins    

This sucks. R.I.P.

390 days ago
35.

shannon    

NO!!!!!!!

390 days ago
36.

Matthew    

Hope that's only a hoax, horrible news if that were true. Quite a fine man and an actor he was/is!

390 days ago
37.

damienevil    

well his career died bout 5 minutes after the show ended..so might as well join it...sad though

390 days ago
38.

Lee    

I have never watched the Sopranos but loved him as an actor. He will be deeply missed!

390 days ago
39.

Cat    

I will miss you James you will always be Tony Soprano to me!!!!

390 days ago
40.

Slutface    

Rest in peace...

390 days ago
41.

nevermore    

This completely sucks... RIP James... much too young... condolences to his family.

390 days ago
42.

CoconutScrimp    

He was hot!

390 days ago
43.

Reyna38    

Very sad day for everyone..

390 days ago
44.

Carmen    

Rip. Very sad.

390 days ago
45.

G    

RIP, boss.

390 days ago
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