James Gandolfini, best known for his portrayal in the hit series The Sopranos about a conflicted crime boss, has died. The actor made a name for himself in the six seasons on the show winning awards and getting recognition from his peers.
Gandolfini was on a working vacation in Italy trying to reconnect with his roots, when he died early Thursday morning. He was touring the country with son Michael celebrating his eighth grade graduation, prior to traveling to Sicily for a film festival.
He was scheduled to receive an award from the festival organizers before participating in a round table conversation over American cinema. He was to be joined in the discussion with actress Marisa Tomei and Gabriele Muccino a popular film director.
The festival’s artistic director said he had talked to Gandolfini only hours before the actor died and said Gandolfini sounded happy to be in Italy and excited about visiting Sicily and taking part in the festival’s roundtable discussion.
The director of the film festival in Sicily has said the roundtable would be cancelled in favor of paying homage to the late Sopranos’ actor.
Both Gandolfini’s parents were born and brought up in Italy before emigrating to the U.S. where the actor was born in New Jersey.
Officials said they believe Gandolfini had died of a massive heart attack that he suffered in his hotel bathroom.
His son, who is just 13, called the hotel front desk to report his father’s sickness. They immediately contacted an ambulance. Gandolfini was still alive when paramedics rushed him to a nearby hospital.
Gandolfini was pronounced dead at 11:00 pm local time at the hospital after doctors attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate him for 40 minutes.