RIP James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano)

James Gandolfini was most famous for his role as Tony Soprano
James Gandolfini was most famous for his role as Tony Soprano

TV and film star James Gandolfini, best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano, has died aged 51.

Gandolfini, who played the conflicted head of the Soprano family, is believed to have had a heart attack while on holiday in Italy.

The award-winning actor was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival.

While Tony Soprano was a larger-than-life figure, Gandolfini was modest and hard working.

He grew up in New Jersey, the son of a building maintenance chief and a school cafeteria worker.

After earning a degree in communications, he moved to New York City, where he worked as a bartender, bouncer and nightclub manager.

When he was 25, he joined a friend of a friend in an acting class, which he continued for several years.

Gandolfini’s first big break was a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in which he played Steve, one of Stanley Kowalski’s poker buddies. His film debut was in Sidney Lumet’s A Stranger Among Us in 1992.

Gandolfini played a tough guy in Tony Scott’s 1993 film True Romance, who beat Patricia Arquette’s character to a pulp while offering jarring, flirtatious banter.

It was True Romance that piqued the interest of Sopranos creator Chase, leading to the role that won Gandolfini three Emmy awards.

As well as the groundbreaking HBO series, his film credits included Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, and he appeared in the Broadway production God Of Carnage.

He also took in comedy, with Armando Ianucci’s political satire In the Loop, and voiceover as the Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are.

New Jersey-born Gandolfini married wife Deborah Lin in Hawaii in 2008, who gave birth to their daughter Liliana Ruth in October.

Gandolfini, who spent part of his early career supporting himself as a bartender and nightclub manager, also had a son, Michael, with his ex-wife, Marcy Wudarski.

James Gandolfini may have come to fame later in life but he made a huge impact on the small and big screen alike.



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