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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
106.

Meanie    

So sad... RIP.

428 days ago
107.

amyd    

Oh my god, that's HORRIBLE!!! Wow, he was the best! So sad!!!!

428 days ago
108.

milly5    

Got myself a gun....

428 days ago
109.

karen Benedict    

I hope they do an autopsy It does not add up It sounds like he might have been poisoned?

428 days ago
110.

tina    

this is so sad I loved his work he will be very deeply missed.

428 days ago
111.

JesusSaves    

He will always be a legend and greatly missed. Bright blessings to him and his family and loved ones. RIP

428 days ago
112.

Darlys    

Total shock...may he rest in peace, and may the gates of Heaven open wide to take him in...

428 days ago
113.

Throwback kid    

He is now in that Bada Bing Club in the sky, RIP Thanks for entertaining us with your great career

428 days ago
114.

mary    

iam so sad to hear he died. he was a great actor and i loved anything he was in. the sopranos was so entertaining they were bad, but he made you have sympathy for his character rip and thanks for sharing your gift with us..

428 days ago
115.

victory    

WOW! This is shocking news. He was a great actor. On angels wings, big guy.

428 days ago
116.

Fpowers    

Gosh I hate that..I absolutely loved him in the Sopranos..He was the best character actor ever!!..James ..you will be missed!!

428 days ago
117.

Jed23    

To those saying this is a hoax. Quite sadly, it is not. RIP

428 days ago
118.

Yak    

WTH? With all his resources he didn't have a full time cardiologist and a team of doctors assessing his health on a regular basis? Very sad, a huge loss, Tony Soprano is one of my all time favourite characters.

428 days ago
119.

Itoldu    

Wow,so young!
RIP & prayers & condolences to your friends & family.
Jersey will miss you.

428 days ago
120.

Arkidd    

I believe he's still alive:
http://en.mediamass.net/people/james-gandolfini/deathhoax.html

428 days ago
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