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James Gandolfini, who made his mark on television history as the troubled crime boss on HBO’s smash drama The Sopranos, has died. He was 51.
Gandolfini died Wednesday of a reported heart attack in Italy, according to published reports. He was overseas to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily -- and he was scheduled to participate in a festival event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.
The stocky Gandolfini played New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano for six seasons from 1999-2007, winning three Emmy nominations for best actor in a drama in consecutive years (out of six nominations total). The show was a linchpin of the premium cable network.
Gandolfini also has appeared in such films as the remake of The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009), Welcome to the Rileys (2010), Killing Them Softly (2012), Not Fade Away (2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and this year’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Before The Sopranos, Gandolfini appeared in such films, often as a heavy, in Get Shorty (1995), Mr. Wonderful (1993), Terminal Velocity (1994), Crimson Tide (1995), Night Falls on Manhattan (1996), She’s So Lovely (1997) and The Mighty (1998).
Gandolfini, an Italian-American, was born in Westwood, N.J.. His father a bricklayer and later the head custodian at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School, and his mother served lunches at the school. Italian was spoken in their home.
Gandolfini graduated from Park Ridge High School in 1979 and earned a BA at Rutgers University, where he worked as a bouncer at an on-campus pub.
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