James Gandolfini died on Wednesday of a massive heart attack, HBO confirms. The actor, 51, was best known for playing Tony Soprano on the groundbreaking cable drama The Sopranos. Gandolfini was on vacation in Italy at the time of his death, on a father-son bonding trip with his son Michael, who had just graduated from the 8th grade. TMZ reports that Michael's mother Marcy Wudarski, Gandolfini's first wife, flew immediately to Italy to be with her son upon hearing of the actor's death.
"We're all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family," the network said in a statement to Us Weekly. "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."
Gandolfini's managers, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, also expressed their grief over his passing. "It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy," they said in a joint statement. "Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving."
Apart from his work on The Sopranos, Gandolfini had starred in a number of films in his 25 year career, including The Taking of Pelham 123 with Denzel Washington and this year's The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. His latest project, Animal Rescue, is due for release next year.
Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, their daughter Liliana, 8 months, and his son, Michael. Our thoughts are with the family.
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(Photo: AP Photo/HBO, Barry Wetcher, File)