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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

No Avatar
46.

Zombie Whitney Houston    

RIP

Wow.. that really sucks. He was so awesome on The Sopranos.

390 days ago
47.

Zinn    

Damn, he had the ultimate "sit down"...

390 days ago
48.

harleyharlett    

dam :(

390 days ago
49.

Italia    

Foul play. He trying to live the part and got himself taken out. Just like his TV son got caught by cops trying to play out his TV role in real life.

390 days ago
50.

G    

RIP, boss.

390 days ago
51.

joanna    

So Sad

390 days ago
52.

SoWhat    

Sad news, he was a good guy. Really sucks when good people like that die and totally worthless 24/7 drug addicted wastes of human beings like the Lohans(especially Lindsay and Dina) keep going.

390 days ago
53.

cristy    

I love him :(

390 days ago
54.

D    

omg, how horrible. Love him.

390 days ago
55.

Leo    

He needs to tell St. Peter he was just acting!!!!!!!!

390 days ago
56.

SoWhat    

Sad news, he was a good guy. Really sucks when good people like that die and totally worthless 24/7 drug addicted wastes of human beings like the Lohans(especially Lindsay and Dina) keep going.

390 days ago
57.

bportjoey    

He was just as tony wished to be "the strong silent type"

390 days ago
58.

Truth is    

Follywood claimed another...rip fella

390 days ago
59.

M ferro    

This is a shock and such a terrible loss. A good actor, a nice man. I always looked forward to seeing anything with him in it. I wish he would have hired somebody to take care of him, cook his food and stop him from over-doing it in restaurants.
I will miss seeing him in movies

390 days ago
60.

jetfanglo    

wowee-wow...............godspeed JG........ :o

390 days ago
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