Actor James Gandolfini of Sopranos fame dies suddenly, in Italy

Actor James Gandolfini, 51, has died of what early reports say was a massive heart attack.

He was in Italy at the time.

HBO has issued a statement:

We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was 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.

From an obituary at Comic Book Resources blog:

While he may be most recognizable as Tony Soprano by fans, Gandolfini had a number of different roles in Hollywood, including “True Romance,” “Terminal Velocity,” “Get Shorty,” “The Juror,” “The Taking of Pelham 123″ and more. Early in his career during 1992, he appeared in a Broadway production of “On the Waterfront.” He most recently was set to appear in “Animal Rescue” alongside Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, which is slated for a 2014 release.

Behind the camera, Gandolfini produced two documentaries with HBO: “Alive Day: Home from Iraq,” which focused on injured Iraq War veterans and the physical and emotional toll of reintegrating back into society; and “Wartorn: 1861-2010,” which explored and allayed the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder through American history. He also produced “Hemingway & Gelhorn,” the HBO miniseries about author Ernest Hemingway and the writer’s relationship with Martha Gelhorn. Gandolfini was a huge supporter of The Octoberwoman Foundation for Breast Cancer Research in his hometown of Park Ridge, and appeared often in the foundation’s annual October banquet.

Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, and his son Michael.

In Vanity Fair, Gandolfini's thoughts on acting, The Sopranos, and family.

Don't stop believing.


  1. He played one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever seen on television – Tony Soprano.  Wow, what a terrible lose.  I’m genuinely going to miss him. 

  2. cosa nostra was pissed at him making money off their history and not paying his fee – get an autopsy

  3. I’m kind of surprised that he was only 51.  He was in his 30s when The Sopranos started.

    1. Me too, I never imagined he was my age! I guess that’s a gift of sorts, to inhabit your roles like that. One of my favorite “not Tony”  appearances of his was as the sad sack mob muscle in Get Shorty. Small part done with style.
      Scary that someone who presumably had the best of healthcare (I believe you have to get a physical to get insured on a movie) could just drop dead like that. Gonna make me an appointment with a doc.  RIP, if immortality was one of your goals as an actor, you got it.

  4. I’ve got something kind of strange to say, but it’s meant in the best possible way, so I hope no one takes offense.

    I’ve never seen this man perform. No HBO subscription, never grabbed the DVDs. But I know The Sopranos is universally respected, and as I’ve never seen it, I’ve kind of stashed it away like money in the bank – knowing that at one point, I’ll dive in and have this totally immersive complete binge, as I eventually did with Battlestar Galactica, years after it came and went.

    So James, without knowing yet exactly why; without any direct contact with your being but the trace echoes I’ve heard from your impact on other people, I’ll say thanks for your work, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you, in the way that one meets an artist from afar.

    I think it’s going to be great. And I think knowing that one has – in a way, transcended death, has to be a source of comfort to both an individual, and to those who love them.

    1.  < I'll dive in and have this totally immersive complete binge

      You actually mean you'll dive in and have this totally immersive complete bing.

      Bing.   Without the e.   

      The Bing.

      Cryptic now.  But when you watch it — you'll see!

      1. I love that. I love to keep turning the pages; to know I have all that ahead of me. I’ve held off on this one, because so many people I respect let me know it’s actually so good.

        I’ve watched other people enter other experiences I’ve had – Six Feet Under, Deadwood – and envied their journey, knowing how incredible it is to go beginning to end. I had a friend let me know when she hit the last Six Feet Under, just so I could sit by her as one of the best finales ever rolled off the screen – just to taste that feeling again, of experiencing for the first time.

        I’ve saved this one for myself, and I think it’s about time I got started.

    2. Yeah… when I lived in Japan and couldn’t work, the neighbour’s wifi provided me with all the seasons and OMFG this show is great. perfectly marries brutal with touching, personal with impersonal. It’s an absolute work of art that wouldn’t be half the show it is without James’ contribution.

      Watch it!

  5. He also did a pretty good job voicing that monster from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

  6. He managed to change the public conception of a Mafia don from Michael Corleone to Tony Soprano.  And he did it very well.

    1. The viewing audience wasn’t asked or expected to understand the Corleone family – just fear/respect them.  It was impossible to watch the Sopranos and miss the fucked up childhoods of Tony and Carmela, and their associates, and how that colored their worldview.  David Chase wanted us to see that the Sopranos were in some ways like every other family – our families – good and bad.  It’s what made the characters so creepy and yet likeable. 

      Larry Fishburne did that for me too when he played Othello, a character I never understood or had any sympathy for.  But Larry made the monstrosity of the character’s pride very human, he made the character fragile, and it brought me to tears for him.

  7. While he became synonymous with a TV role, films like “Perdita Durango” and “In The Loop” showcased Gandolfini’s talent. No immersive multi-episode experiences, just unforgettable characters.


  8. Don’t stop believin’.

    I’m not sure what I mean by that, but it’s what went through my head when I saw the sad news on TV.

    I loved him as Tony Soprano, but I loved him first as Bear on “Get Shorty.”

  9. I’m a bit shell-shocked.  While he hadn’t exactly been treating his body as a temple for quite some time, he was still way too young.  What a talent.  He will certainly be missed.

  10. I can think of no more appropriate or useful comment, for this death or any other, than the one that Tony Soprano ALWAYS made whenever someone in his circle died:

    “Whaddya gonna do?”

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