The New Jersey-born actor who played mob boss Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos” has died supposedly following a massive heart attack/stroke in Rome on his way toTaormina,Italy, at the age of 51.
Initial reports of Gandolfini’s death were confirmed to NPR by HBO, which has released a statement:
“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us. ”
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. He became infamous for his role as Tony Soprano for which he was cast in 1999.