Sopranos fans finally got an answer to the cliffhanger question the HBO series left them with at its end—their beloved “Tony” is no more.
Actor James Gandolfini, 51, made famous for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, died of cardiac arrest Wednesday while vacationing in Rome.
“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. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”
Though most well-known for his star-making role as the lethal, yet lovable mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s The Sopranos, for which he received three Emmy Awards, Gandolfini created a rich legacy of film and stage work, much of which will be highlighted this weekend at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, where the actor was set to receive an award.
Mario Sesti and Tiziana Rocca said they had spoken to Gandolfini hours before his death “and he was very happy to receive this prize and be able to travel to Italy.”
Michael Kobold, a family friend, told reporters in Rome that a family member discovered Gandolfini in his hotel room, but he declined to say whom. NBC quoted Antonio D’Amore, manager of Rome’s Boscolo Exedra hotel, as saying it was Gandolfini’s 13-year-old son, Michael.
According to Dr. Caludio Modini, head of the emergency room at the Policlinic Umberto I hospital in Rome, Gandolfini arrived at the hospital at 10:40 p.m. Wednesday and was pronounced dead at 11 p.m., after resuscitation efforts in the ambulance and hospital failed.
Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano’s wife Carmela on The Sopranos, remembered him as a “man of tremendous depth and sensitivity.”
“I am shocked and devastated by Jim’s passing,” she said in a statement. “I consider myself very lucky to have spent 10 years as his close colleague. My heart goes out to his family. 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.”
Gandolfini leaves behind a wife, Deborah, whom he married in 2008, and two children—Liliana, born last year, and his 13-year-old son, Michael.