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Actor James Gandolfini Dead at 51

Sonia Recchia- Getty Images

Multiple sources report that actor James Gandolfini, best known for portraying Tony Soprano in the hit show “The Sopranos” has died in Italy at the age of 51.

While an official cause of death has not been confirmed, it’s suspected that James passed away due to a massive heart attack while in Italy for the  59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

James leaves behind his wife, Deborah Lin, their 8-month-old daughter Liliana and his teenage son from his first marriage with Marcy Wudarski, Michael.

Born in Westwood, New Jersey, James began acting in the New York theater. His Broadway debut was in the 1992 revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin. James’ breakthrough role was his portrayal of Virgil the hitman in True Romance in 1993, but the role that shot him into stardom was that of Tony Soprano, the Mafia boss on HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos.”

James’ star shone bright with a Golden Globe, three Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Awards for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos.” James also received critical acclaim for his roles in the movies “True Romance,” “The Last Castle,” and as the voice of Carol in “Where the Wild Things Are.”

In real life, James tended to shy away from the limelight preferring instead to live a low key life. It’s rumored that at one time, James had reservations about continuing his production contract as Tony in “The Sopranos” due to the show’s violent content and stereotype of Italian-Americans.

James had a local tie to our area as he financed the construction of a restaurant called Vines in Oneonta for his childhood pal Clive Griffiths, who needed the money to launch it, however, Vines closed its doors in November of 2004.

James Gandolfini discussed his life and acting career on Inside The Actor’s Studio:

Sources: TMZ, TooFab, CNN, IMDB, The Daily Star

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