Actor James Gandolfini of ‘The Sopranos’ dies at 51
AS I am sure most if not all of you on facebook and twitter have heard – James Gandolfini, better known as The Crime Boss Tony Soprano from the HBO show “The Sopranos”, passed away in Rome, Italy at the age of 51. Although attempts were made for resuscitation, he was officially pronounced dead at 11:00pm. James was scheduled to take part in a film festival going on this weekend and was on vacation with his son, 13 year old Michael, and his sister. He is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, their baby daughter and his son Michael, with his ex-wife, Marcy Wudarski, from whom he was divorced in December 2002.
Gandolfini, a New Jersey native obtained his breakthrough part in 1999 as the Mafia boss, Tony Soprano in the HBO series which won multiple awards and accommodations, including three Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. â€œWe’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,â€ said a statement from HBO. â€œHe 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.
â€œHe 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. â€œ
Gandolfini’s performance in “The Sopranos” was indelible and career-making, but he refused to be stereotyped as the bulky mobster who was a therapy patient, family man and cold-blooded killer. We all remember the ‘blackout’ ending to the Sopranos show, a memorable moment in television history that almost parallels his abrupt passing.
While living in New Jersey and after attending Rutgers University for a communications degree, James found his way to New York and carried different jobs from a bartender, to a bouncer to a nightclub manager but at 25 years of age, he found an acting class leading him to Broadway and eventually HBO’s Sopranos.
“Sopranos” producer and creator David Chase issued a statement Wednesday night saying, â€œHe was a genius. 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.
Holsten’s ice cream parlor in New Jersey even reserved the booth where the last scene of The Sopranos was filmed, in an act of respect to the late James Gandolfini. While not all of us picture him with a cigar in hand, those of us in the cigar community will always admire, respect and remember the hours spent enjoying our favorite cigars and libations while watching Tony and the entire Soprano family carry on their lives.