Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Gandolfini 'died of heart attack'

James Gandolfini died of a heart attack, a post mortem has found (AP)

A post mortem has found that actor James Gandolfini died of a heart attack, with no evidence of substance abuse or foul play, a family friend said.

Michael Kobold told reporters that Gandolfini's body has been released to a funeral director and that the family was working with the Italian government to speed up the bureaucratic red tape to get the body back to the United States soon.

While the process can take up to 10 days, Mr Kobold said the family was hoping to have the body repatriated by mid-week with a funeral planned in New York by Saturday at the latest.

The Sopranos star, 51, died on Wednesday night after being discovered in a Rome hotel room by a family member.

He had arrived in Rome on Tuesday and spent his first full day in the Eternal City with his son visiting the Vatican and dining in the hotel, the luxury Boscolo Exedra.

"He had a wonderful day," Mr Kobold said of the father-son holiday.

Asked if Gandolfini had a history of heart problems, Mr Kobold said he was healthy.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary. It was a heart attack. It was a natural cause," he said. "There was no foul play, no substance abuse. None of that."

Morgue officials at Rome's Policlinico Umberto I hospital said the US Embassy had told them not to speak to the media, and that a family representative would provide the results of the autopsy. Gandolfini's sister, Leta, went to the morgue on Friday to formally identify the body.

Gandolfini was to have helped preside over the closing ceremony of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily on Saturday. The festival instead is organising a tribute to him.

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