(CNN) James Gandolfini best known for his role as an anxiety ridden mob boss on HBO's The Sopranos died Wednesday while on vacation in Italy. He was 51.
The exact cause of death is not known but his managers said it was possibly a heart attack.
It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini. passed away today while on holiday in Rome Italy managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders 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.
The actor had been scheduled to make an appearance at the Taormina Film Fest in Sicily this week.
Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Tony Soprano the angst wracked mob boss who visited a therapist and took Prozac while knocking off people. The Sopranos aired from 1999 to 2007.HBO Actor James Gandolfini has died Larry King 'Sopranos' made him a star Gupta 51 is young for a heart attack 2007 'The Sopranos' TV legacy
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Jimmy was the spiritual core of our Sopranos family and I am stunned at this devastating loss said Chris Albrecht the former president of HBO who gave the green light to the show. He was a great talent but an even better man. My thoughts are with his family.
Actor Steve Van Zandt who played Tony Soprano's confidant Silvio Dante felt equally close to Gandolfini in real life. I have lost a brother and a best friend he posted on Twitter. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.
Gandolfini was born September 18 1961 in Westwood New Jersey according to Biography.com.
He graduated from Rutgers University and as the story goes worked as a bartender and a bouncer in New York City until he went with a friend to an acting class.
He got his start on Broadway with a role in the 1992 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin.
Gandolfini's big screen debut came in the role of a heavy in the bloody True Romance in 1993. His breakthrough on the small screen came in 1999 with the role of Tony Soprano.
He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that David Chase who developed The Sopranos said in a statement. ...A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.
Gandolfini who was notoriously press shy had a reputation in the tabloids for being sometimes difficult.
He wasn't easy sometimes. But he was my partner he was my brother in ways I can't explain and never will be able to explain Chase said.
While Gandolfini was known for sometimes ruthless often imposing characters those who worked with him described an actor who put his heart into a role.
He was just so good at the emotion. A very passionate man and a very very tender man Matthew Warchus who directed Gandolfini in the 2009 Broadway play God of Carnage told CNN. I really loved him and admired him a great deal.
Larry King who saw Gandolfini in Las Vegas just weeks ago told CNN the actor was jovial and seemed happy.
He stamped himself in 'The Sopranos' so much people have overlooked his many diversified roles he's performed King said. He was a very diverse character actor who became a star.2007 James Gandolfini on the red carpet James Gandolfini died at the age of 51 after an apparent heart attack. Gandolfini became a fan favorite for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano on HBO's The Sopranos. Country music singer/songwriter Slim Whitman died on June 19 his son in law Roy Beagle told CNN. He was 90. Above Whitman poses with his guitar at a press conference at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on February 22 1956. Esther Williams whose success as a competitive swimmer propelled her to Hollywood stardom during the 1940s and 1950s died on Thursday June 6 in California according to her spokesman. David Deacon Jones who is credited with coining the term sacking the quarterback during his stint as one of the greatest defensive ends in the NFL has died. Democratic Sen. 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Born Clara Ann Fowler Page was the best selling female artist of the 1950s and had 19 gold and 14 platinum singles. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 Photos People we lost in 2013
Gandolfini's acting credits included roles in The Last Castle with Robert Redford The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts and Surviving Christmas with Ben Affleck.
In recent years he had starred in several movies including the Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Killing Them Softly.
Gandolfini was also known to children voicing Carol a wild thing in the 2009 movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are.
He took to the stage to do a reading of Sendak's In The Night Kitchen to mark the author's 80th birthday.
News of the actor's death spread quickly drawing shock and sadness from those who had worked with him.
James Gandolfini was a kind funny wonderful guy. I'm so lucky to have worked with him. Sending love to his family. Such a sad sad day Olivia Wilde who starred with the actor in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone said in a post on Twitter.
Actor Steve Carell who also appeared in the movie simply said on Twitter James Gandolfini. What a great loss.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie described himself as a huge fan of Gandolfini.
It's an awful shock. James Gandolfini was a fine actor a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy he said.
Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah and their 9 month old daughter Liliana. He is also survived by a son Michael from another marriage.
CNN's KJ Matthews Douglas Hyde Elise Miller and Henry Hanks contributed to this report.