James Gandolfini, actor of the Saprano TV series died at the age of 51 while on vacation with family in Rome. The actor suffered an apparent heart attack, witnesses said he complained of feeling ill before succumbing.
Gandolfini, an award winning actor with three Emmys and one Golden Globe was well known for his work with the Saprano HBO drama. His role as Anthony Saprono on the show, a complex villainous character, is accredited with a rise in antiheros on current TV.
Gandolfini, a New Jersey native, had small film and theater roles before being cast by David Chase in the HBO award-winning drama. The show premiered in 1999 and was the neworks top-rated series. Gandolfini rose as the show’s star performing opposite Edie Falco’s Carmela helping to establish the network. He soon commanded $1,000,000 per episode in the series.
Gandolfini played basketball and acted in school plays in high school. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Rutgers University. He has strong Italian roots and both his parents were born U.S. citizens. Galndolfini was introduced to acting as a young man living in New York City.
Listed as the 42nd Greatest TV Icon of all time by Entertainment Weekly, Gandofini’s run with the Saprano series ended in 2007. He continued his relationship with the network as a producer completing a documentary about veterans of the Iraq War. He also completed production work last year on Hemingway & Gellhorn, about author Ernest Hemingway.
HBO confirmed the actor’s death in a statement: “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. 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 was on travel thru Italy en route to Sicily, he was scheduled to meet with officials at the Taormina Film Festival. He had planned to participate in an onstage conversation with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.
In 2009, Gandolfini performed on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning comedy God of Carnage. He played the director of the CIA in the film Zero Dark Thirty and appeared in the movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Gandolfini is survived by his current wife Deborah Lin, former model, who is from Honolulu, Hawaii. They have a 8-month-year old daughter, Liliana. He has a son, Michael from his previous marriage to Marcy Wudarski.
In Addition, Johanna Antonacci, his sister is the manager of the Family Davision of the New Jersey Superior Court in Hachensak, New Jersey.
Dave Chase, creator of The Sopranos said of Gandolfini, “he’s a genius,” in consideration of his acting ability. “We lost a giant today and I’m uterlly heart broken,” said former co-star Lorraine Bracco of the Sopranos.
By Thomas Barr