James Gandolfini, 1961-2013 R.I.P


Very sad news being reported last night and more details emerging today on the sudden death of one of the all time great actors in Hollywood.James Gandolfini passed yesterday at a hotel in Italy.From HBO’s Sopranos to his roles in films such as True Romance and The Mexican, he was truly one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Prior to his most famous role as Tony Soprano, he was referred to many as “Hollywoods best kept secret”. He will be missed.

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‘Sopranos’ star James Gandolfini dead at 51; teenage son found actor, called for help

ROME, Italy — James Gandolfini’s teenage son called for help after discovering his father collapsed in a bathroom, according to the manager of the Italian hotel where the “The Sopranos” star was staying. The Emmy-winning actor was later pronounced dead Wednesday at age 51.

Gandolfini, who rose to fame as mob boss Tony Soprano on the hit HBO show, was still alive when the ambulance arrived, according to Antonio D’amore, who runs the Hotel Boscolo in Rome.

Gandolfini suffered a suspected heart attack in the bathroom of his hotel room at about 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) Wednesday, according to D’amore.

He said Gandolfini’s son, Michael, was with him in the room and called for help. Hotel staff rushed to the room and found the actor on the bathroom floor, D’amore said.

Workers tried to resuscitate him but he was taken to the nearby Policlinico Umberto I hospital. Michael Kobold, who lived with Gandolfini years ago and considered him a “big brother,” spoke to reporters outside the hotel and confirmed that hotel workers called an ambulance and first aid was administered on Gandolfini before he was transported to the hospital.

“Our prayers and condolences go to Mr Gandolfini’s family and firends,” Kobold said, referring to himself as a family spokesman. “We ask you all to respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Kobold said Gandolfini died of “an apparent heart attack.” Claudio Modini, head of the hospital’s emergency room, told The Associated Press that Gandolfini was declared dead at 11 p.m. (5 p.m. ET), 40 minutes after being admitted. He said an autopsy would be performed, as required by local law, with the preliminary results likely due on Friday.

Gandolfini and his family were visiting Rome prior to his scheduled appearance on Saturday as guest of honor at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. The actor was going to participate in a roundtable with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.

“He was a genius,” said “Sopranos” creator David Chase. “Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time.”

Edie Falco who played Carmela Soprano, the unforgettable mobster’s wife, said Gandolfini was “a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity, with a kindness and generosity beyond words.”

“My heart goes out to his family,” she added. “As those of us in his pretend one hold on to the memories of our intense and beautiful time together. The love between Tony and Carmela was one of the greatest I’ve ever known.”

Michael Imperioli, who played Tony Soprano’s nephew on the HBO ground-breaking series, called working with Gandolfini a “pleasure and a privilege” in a statement. “Jimmy treated us all like family with a generosity, loyalty and compassion that is rare in this world…I will be forever grateful having had a friend the likes of Jimmy.”

Federico Castelluccio, who played Furio Giunta on the series, described Gandolfini as “really well-naunced” and “one of the greatest actors of our time.”

“He was a soft-spoken guy, but a warm guy,” New York Times TV writer Bill Carter told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “When he hugged you, it was genuine.”

Gandolfini won critical acclaim, three Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild awards for playing Tony Soprano from 1999-2007.

“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” HBO said in a statement. “He was a 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.”

Although a New Jersey native, Gandolfini didn’t expect to land the role of Tony Soprano. “I thought that they would hire some good-looking guy, not George Clooney but some Italian George Clooney, and that would be that,” he told Vanity Fair in 2012.

But instead, it was Gandolfini who got the nod, and he made viewers care about a mob boss who could order the murder of a family member one minute and turn around and tenderly feed the ducks that swam in his estate’s swimming pool the next.

“I think you cared about Tony because David was smart enough to write the Greek chorus, through (Soprano’s psychiatrist) Dr. Melfi,” Gandolfini said. “So you sat there and you got to see his motives, what he was thinking, what he was trying to do, what he was trying to fix, what he was trying to become. And then you saw it didn’t really work out the way he wanted it to.”

Actress Lorraine Bracco, who played Melfi, said in a statement, “We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken.”

Despite being globally associated with Tony Soprano, Gandolfini went on to play quite different roles including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama “Zero Dark Thirty.” He also starred in the remake of “The Taking of Pelham 123.”

Gandolfini went on a USO tour to Kuwait and Iraq in 2004, and found himself unable to forget the soldiers and Marines he met there. The result was his 2008 HBO documentary, “Alive Day Memories,” in which he spoke with 10 men and women who survived the war. The program was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding nonfiction special, and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called it a “powerful and nonpolitical hour of television.”


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